After my meeting with employees at one of our local studios, I had a friendly back-and-forth with a management person via phone and e-mail. The (summarized) version of management's position?
We know what the laws, regulations and contract are regarding o.t., and we expect everyone to fill out time cards accurately, to work authorized overtime when needed, and follow the rules. If they don't do these things, they are subject to discipline and/or discharge ...
In my experience, this is upper management's official position at most every studio I visit: "We know what the ground rules are ... and we follow them." It would be foolish for them to say anything else, and they don't. I also think, in most cases, they believe the words they're speaking.
But the reality is, between the front office and the production people (you know, those mid-management folks who supervise the artists?) there is too often a communications gap. There are also those other management people who are haranguing: "We gotta get this out day after tomorrow! And we don't have money in the budget for o.t.!"
Times and production realities being what they are, a dynamic tension between overtime rules and the real world as seen and defined by production managers has steadily built up. Yeah, time and a half after eight hours is the way it's supposed to be done, but "the budget only allocates X number of dollars for this show and damnit, we've to to hit the schedule and the damn budget!" is still a central tenet in many managers' playbooks.
Into this breach step board artists, designers and others who are scared witless over the possibility of losing their jobs and so are more than happy to give the company eight ... or ten ... or fifteen hours of free pencil mileage, either at home or late at night in the studio. They take pride in their work, in their ability to get the show in by Tuesday of next week even though the schedule is suddenly fifteen percent shorter, and willing to half kill themselves with all-nighters to do hit the mark.
The irony is, they are undercutting their wages and professionalism by giving conglomerates their services at bargain-basement prices. And by doing the work of two employees for the price of, say, one point five, they also hurt other artists who struggle to make a living.