Friday, June 04, 2010

Rough Draft

Rough Draft Animation in Glendale.

For the past few months, we've had an organizing campaign going at Rough Draft Animation, with all the usual stuff: Rep cards handed around. Lunchtime meetings. Letters to the staff.

At noontime today, we had a National Labor Relations Board election at the facility ...

Forty-four artists voted in the election. TAG lost. Decisively.

I'm telling you this because in my experience, labor unions tend not to mention their non-victories because it's, you know, bad P.R.. But I find that wearisome.

As I get older, I think that transparency and forthrightness are better policies. I mean, it's kind of hypocritical to decry shiftiness in other organizations if you're shifty yourself, right?

Suffice it to say unions win elections and lose elections. This time, sadly, The Animation Guild was on the fuzzy end of the popsicle stick.

So Rough Draft will continue to operate as a non-union animation studio, and we'll work to change their minds some other time.

117 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRf4CSHlNNw&feature=related

vfxsoldier said...

What was the main reason among the artists to vote no?

Anonymous said...

I like how the photo says "pay here". Symbolic?

Anonymous said...

I am a union member and I always enjoy working at a union studio but in all my 15 years I have never heard what a studio gets out of being union. I understand what artist get out of it. I feel a lot of other people wonder the same thing. Just something I have often wondered.

vfxsoldier said...

Funny the commenter above mentioned that. I was talking to an artist about organizing and he kept coming back to what the studio gets out of the guild.

If studios got something out of going guild they would all encourage it. Having artists individually represent themselves only works to the studios favors. Joining a guild brings more leverage to the artists.

Anonymous said...

Shiftiness? are you suggesting that RDS is shifty? They may be anti union, but they have been pretty open about that. No shiftiness there.
I don't understand that comment.

Anonymous said...

Well, obviously. Unions weren't created for the owner's benefit. They are solely for the benefit of the workforce, as a bulwark against the inherent advantages of the business owner.

I don't know the particulars of why the employees of Rough Draft rejected the union. Maybe the benefits the studio offered are better. I doubt it, but I have no idea. More likely, the studio's owners used a bunch of standard-issue scare tactics to convince the employees that the studio would close if it went union.

Anonymous said...

nope.. we just didn't want the union. RDS never said they would close.

Anonymous said...

nope.. we just didn't want the union. RDS never said they would close.

Fair enough. Were there reasons why? Are the benefits that Rough Draft offers better than the union's benefits?

Generally speaking, I have found that if management treats its workforce well, fosters a really good work environment, and pays competitively (or better), the workforce has very little reason to unionize.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:16, I think he was saying that not reporting on the loss would make the union shifty. I don't think he was implying that RDS was shifty.

Steve Hulett said...

Shiftiness? are you suggesting that RDS is shifty?

No.

Floyd Norman said...

In my experience, people who say, "who needs a union," are usually young. After a few years go by they'll discover the answer to that question soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Few years have gone by and I still wonder what good the union has done me.

I am getting better treatment at Rough Draft than I have at other union shops.

Thanks for the concern though.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. This was probably a very short-sighted decision on the part of the Rough Draft employees. One in which they voted against their better financial interests.

That's fine. I'm more than happy to accept their residuals, and have them applied to my healthcare (for which I pay absolutely no premiums at all), and my solidly-funded pension and retirement funds.

vfxsoldier said...

Could anonymous 9:47 clarify?

Were you a part of the guild? Could you explain what you wondered about? What did Rough Draft offer you that the union did not?

I couldn't agree more with the post above. Hey if you don't want to earn residuals for healthcare, pensions, etc that's fine.

I doubt your life partner or your children would appreciate it though.

Anonymous said...

The main reason to vote to go Union at RD? Because you won't be at RD forever. Then what?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 6:24:00 PM wrote:

Generally speaking, I have found that if management treats its workforce well, fosters a really good work environment, and pays competitively (or better), the workforce has very little reason to unionize.

You have summed up the RDS situation perfectly.

Steve Hulett said...

Few years have gone by and I still wonder what good the union has done me.

Here's a bit of good.

One of TAG's executive board members had lunch with an old friend who's worked at various union shops for twenty-plus years.

So our board member asks the guy, "How much do you have in your Individual Account Plan?"

Guy looks at him and says: "Individual Account Plan? What's that?"

Board member answers: "It's part of your pension plan. Studios put money into it every week. It'd be on the account statement the Plan sends you."

So the artist runs home and looks at the account statement he just got. And calls the board member back and says: "I've got a $130,000 in it. Holy crap!"

Moral of the story? Even a "few years" would get you ten ... fifteen ... twenty thousand dollars.

vfxsoldier said...

"You have summed up the RDS situation perfectly."

So then why were you all signing rep cards in the first place?

Anonymous said...

I repeat: The main reason to vote to go Union at RD? Because you won't be at RD forever. Then what?

And, as Steve mentioned, the 2nd reason is the IAP.

So, does RD give an IQ test before they hire and if you get into triple digits they turn you away?

I'm guessing there's some very sharp Richard Raynis type there who knows if he does covert brainwashing for management then he'll probably get a better postion then his lowly artist status now. All you RDers, think about it - is there one of your fellows there whos eems to be preaching the loudest about how it doesn't make any sense to go union because RD treats you so well...? If so, he's your enemy.

Anonymous said...

To vfx soldier, only 60% of the studio are in positions to be in TAG. And of those less than 30% of the animation workforce signed repcards, many of them new to the studio. There wasn't a huge revolution, just enough to get a vote.

Anon Sat. 7:16, have you ever worked at RDS? And just because we work at RDS doesn't mean that we can't shift studios or do freelance at union shops to maintain our status. Most of us have worked at a number of different studios and appreciate what we have there.

We get treated well, we have benefits. And we are pretty proud of how our shows look.

Anonymous said...

Richard Raynis is sharp?

vfxsoldier said...

30% of your animation workforce that was new to the studio signed rep cards.

That doesn't sound like a small group of peanuts. How many of those were former guild members? What was their main issue with the studio?

What did management say to the artists about the guild?

Anonymous said...

And of those less than 30% of the animation workforce signed repcards

This is a lie that management told you. You see, management doesn't get to see who signed cards, so they make this stuff up. In fact, slightly over half of the crew at Rough Draft signed rep cards.

And when you say only 60% of the "animation workforce" are eligible to join the union, you must consider management and the production staff as "animation workforce," which is a weird mindset.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Management has lied to us all. We are all country bumpkins that have never worked for union shops and don't understand the drastic improvements that the union would make in our lives. That's why the vote was so decisively against.

I'm sure the management at the union shops I have worked at have always told the truth. I'm also certain that the union has always operated in the best interest of its artists. That's why it agrees to contracts with stipulations like the "on-call" status or 50 to 60 hour work weeks.

Vote is done, for now, the union lost. Those of you who do not or will not ever work for Rough Draft should hike you skirts up and move along.

Anonymous said...

If half of the studio employees signed rep cards, that is certainly a sign that all is not well there, and that employees feel that conditions are not incredibly great.

Ultimately, they decided for one reason or another not to change things.

But it is interesting that no one has stepped up to answer the question: what is the comparison of RD's benefits to the union's? Are they, in fact, superior? What were the overriding reasons why these employees, who at one time were interested in signing rep cards and going union, changed their minds?

Anonymous said...

First thing you need to learn about this industry is don't believe everything you hear from a producer. I learned that one early on, won't make that mistake again.

You were told by your producer that it was 30%, but truth be told, legally the producer has NO CLUE. All they know is that it needs to be more than 30% to be able to CALL an election. So, a producer being a producer, they fudge the numbers in their favor to make things look good for them. Hence "only 30%."

Side note- It would be stupid to call an election with only 30%, because its a guaranteed loss. What good would that do the union?

My friend showed me one of the letters that was sent out by the union and it said that it was actually over 50% rep cards handed in. The union would know because they collected the card.

Also, I hear your benefits keep getting worse and worse each year. And what happens to that lovely benefits when you get laid off. POOF! GONE! Great magic trick on the producers part.

In this industry, a gig only last so long then you move on to another project. Sometimes its not right away. The union helps cover that in-between job time with the banked hour system.

And please stop making Rough Draft sound like its Disneyland, because its not. It's reputation in this industry is far from it. They pump out good quality work, but to get that high quality they work their employees to the bone and don't pay overtime hence the cost stays down.

All this came down to is people got scared to vote "yes." It's not all these people love Rough Draft it's just that the thought they would lose a job and money. I guarantee most people that voted "no" would leave Rough Draft in a heartbeat for a union studio.

Anonymous said...

Hey-I haven't posted yet here in this discussion but:

First-no one here suggested that Rough Draft people are "country bumpkins" so just quit with that stuff.

But I totally fail to see any reason whatsoever that an artist WOULDN'T want their studio to be union.

I can get indifference, I can get "I'm treated well so far without being union". I can get "I don't care".

But do any of you believe for one second that your salaries, your perqs would go away or go down with a yes-union vote?
Again: the ONLY "downside" is the EMPLOYER paying out a few bucks more per employee. They never, ever want to do that. Trust me, every studio in town would be FINE with being non union. By that I mean the owners and non-artistic, non-eligible-for-839-status staff.

The only possible argument for being against the union is if you're the kind of person that sees guilds as some kind of socialist thing. A circa 1930s mentality. Anything else is just fairy tale stuff. Hell, it's all fairy tale stuff.

There simply isn't a reason to count on an employer as an individual entity to "do the right thing' because with a union agreement thay can pretty much make it up as they go. Why shouldn't they?

And it's not about being anti-owners/management, being "disloyal" or whether your bosses are "nice guys".

It's strictly business.

I have substantial beefs with 839. They have to do with it not being feisty enough. Strong enough. Hardcore enough. Even in these weak-union times.
But for the insurance and hours for pension fund alone they are indispensable. Fact.

Anonymous said...

The decision has nothing to do with the perception of the management being "nice guys."

I can cite plenty of union studios that work their employees "to the bone" without paid overtime based on the agreements that the union has signed with them- on call, work weeks that are longer than 40 hours so you never get paid for overtime, people that work unpaid overtime and do not file a grievance because they fear for their jobs or are told "hey if you can't take it, you should really find someplace else that can fit your needs better."

You had better hope that with the union plan you never have to go to an emergency room that isn't directly affiliated with motion picture, or that you don't have to be hospitalized for a period of time.

Sure hope that the pension is still there when you all retire, for the lucky few that will qualify.

Yep, sounds like a fairy tale to me. Nothing to do with socialism, just experience.

Anonymous said...

So wait, we had over 25 Rep cards signed, and only got 7 YES votes. That is actually a bigger ass-kicking than the Election results!

Anonymous said...

I don't know where you are getting the number 25 from. I heard that it was only 13 cards signed, since they only needed 30% to bring it to the labor board.

Anonymous said...

You had better hope that with the union plan you never have to go to an emergency room that isn't directly affiliated with motion picture, or that you don't have to be hospitalized for a period of time.

Bullshit. Under the Motion Picture plan, you can go to ANY emergency room in a medical emergency, and it's totally covered, so long as you transfer to an affiliated ER once you are stablized. Most health plans have something similar.

Anonymous said...

Sure hope that the pension is still there when you all retire, for the lucky few that will qualify.

Not too worried, it will be. Rough Draft, on the other hand, most likely won't.

Anonymous said...

Pixar is next.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit on your bullshit.

Went to emergency last year on union.

Wasn't covered.

I'm sure the pension will still be there, just like the motion picture retirement facility in Woodland Hills.

Ooops.

Anonymous said...

"we just didn't want the union."

"Generally speaking, I have found that if management treats its workforce well, fosters a really good work environment, and pays competitively (or better), the workforce has very little reason to unionize."

I find these statements highly suspicious. Who is responsible for them? The question here is not, "Why unionize?" That question is a clever device of misdirection. The REAL question is, "Why NOT unionize?" The artists who voted against unionization are staking an implicit position that the employees at RD would actually be WORSE off if they unionized. Why else vote "no?"

Come on smart-ass, are you embarrassed by the reason? You are protected by anonymity. Grow a pair-speak up.

vfxsoldier said...

The smears being posted against the guild are unbelievable.

I worked once under the guild for 2 years and was about to retain my health benefits for 17 months after I left!

I was able to use that as leverage against my next employer to pay me more since I didn't need their health benefits.

I have been able to go to Cedars Sinai to see world renowned doctors for just 20 bucks.

This is the problem with trying to convince people about joining the guild. 90% of the debate is spent attacking smears.

Anonymous said...

>Come on smart-ass, are you embarrassed by the reason? You are protected by anonymity. Grow a pair-speak up.

You are the only embarrassment here - to my union. Grow up. Your attitude just stokes people's negative perception of labor.

Anonymous said...

This person obviously has some bad feelings about the union and thats why they voted no. Its the other people who are not on here that I want to know about. Why vote no? Fear, Intimidation, Misinformation?

But I do also want to know about this hospital visit. Which hospital was it and for what reason did they deny you? Was this a life or death thing? Explain the situation and maybe Steve or someone from the union can explain what happened.

Anonymous said...

Obviously you cannot read.

I prefer the plan that Rough Draft offers for health insurance. RD also provides a nice 401k match as well as contributions to a HSA account plan if one chooses to sign up.

I make more than I did at the union studios that I worked at. There is also more flexibility that would be lost if the studio went union.

Have any of you worked at someplace that was not union and then became union? I have and things after the changeover became worse.

Anonymous said...

And yes, trust me, the hospital thing was an actual emergency. I would rather not get into specifics. Lets just say I had a choice to drive much further and go to St. Joseph's or quickly get to the hospital right down the street. I felt life was more important than money so chose the closer facility and was penalized for it.

vfxsoldier said...

What was the vesting period for the 401k match?

What was the eligibility period for the 401k?

What did RD offer in health benefits?

The union doesn't control how much you make, it controls the minimums.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the plan that Rough Draft offers for health insurance.

You're in the minority at RD. The main reason people signed rep cards at RD was because they got to work on The Simpsons feature, and got a taste of union benefits, and hated having to go back to RD's lesser benefits when then went back on Futurama. You may want to speak for all of RD, but I'm one of your coworkers, and I'm just telling the truth.

I make more than I did at the union studios that I worked at.

So maybe you're the director who was bad mouthing the union. Yeah, we all know you make plenty of money. Most of the rest of us don't. Here's another fact: the union sets salary minimums only. There are plenty of people working at union studios who make more than you, and plenty who make less than you. You seem to imply that, by being nonunion, RD pays people more. As someone who works there, and who has worked union, that is bullshit.

There is also more flexibility that would be lost if the studio went union.

Let's get specific. What flexibility? The flexibility to have people take work home to have people work unpaid OT, knowing that the union rep isn't going to police it? The flexibility to cut our benefits at any time, or lay people off without notice?

Have any of you worked at someplace that was not union and then became union?

A few of my good friends were/are at Film Roman when they went union. They couldn't be happier, and still ask themselves why they didn't push to go union sooner. I know someone who was at Nick back when they went union, and he says the same. Why don't you name the studio that went union and things got worse?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear you weren't covered by the ER under the union health plan for some reason, but I can only reiterate--it is explicitly stated that such situations are covered. Did you contact the MP folks to inquire? Did they explicitly deny the coverage? I'm asking honestly, because I do want to know. I have so far had only positive experiences with the union healthcare, so I'm interested in knowing if they have reneged on a stated coverage policy.

Anonymous said...

"You had better hope that with the union plan you never have to go to an emergency room that isn't directly affiliated with motion picture, or that you don't have to be hospitalized for a period of time."

Really? That's interesting, because BOTH those exact circumstances happened. Emergency room. Hospital stays of weeks duration.
Not to me, to my wife. She's not a union member. But I am. And both were covered. There were bills but they were nominal and the vast majority was covered. I'm not rich, btw.
.Actually I believe there were two different emergency rooms at different random hospitals. Neither were "directly affiliated" as there's only ONE that is an MPSC, the Woodland Hills hospital and we live nowhere near there.

So you're completely WRONG about the benefits. Which goes a long long way toward explaining your attitude as anti-union.

What part of "MP coverage under the union contract follows members from union job to union job and continues with banked hours for quite some time" WON'T you get?

vfxsoldier said...

Great point by the poster above.

I'd also like to add that spouses and children costs NO extra money to be covered.

Every non guild facility charges extra to cover your loved ones.

Does the RD plan do that? Does the RD plan cover you almost a year and a half after you are let go?

Hell no.

At RD you will probably lose your health insurance after one month and be offered COBRA.

Its named after a venomous snake for a reason!

Anonymous said...

I prefer the plan that Rough Draft offers for health insurance. RD also provides a nice 401k match as well as contributions to a HSA account plan if one chooses to sign up.

It is true that the union offers a 401(k) without a match. However, the union also offers an IAP, which RD does not. After five years, the union also grants a pension, which RD does not. Wouldn't the IAP at least compete with the RD 401(k) match? If not, wouldn't the value of the IAP + pension benefits eventually exceed the RD 401(k) match?

It's good that RD contributes to a health savings account for its employees. However, this HSA would only be legal with HSA-compatible insurance, which would have a minimum deductible of $2,400 and maximum out-of-pocket of $11,900 for a family.

If an HSA-compatible plan was the only health insurance choice available, I can see why RD employees wanted to switch to one of the more comprehensive union health plans.

Anonymous said...

A 401(k) match is nice, but for the average animation worker, it amounts to a possible maximum of about $2,000/year. The union's IAP is roughly twice as much. Doesn't even compare.

Fears that "the pension won't be there" when you retire are baseless. There is no evidence for that fear. It's more likely that your 401(k) will be in the dumps. But even in the worst-case scenario, let's imagine that for some reason the pension and retirement funds all go down the drain. You didn't put any of your own paycheck money into them--just your employer. Frankly, it's found money. There's only an up-side for you, with no down-side. Something you won't get from a non-union studio.

Anonymous said...

Remember that a 401(k) match can only amount to 2% of your salary. Sure, that's cool, but if the average animation professional's salary is about $100,000/year, that amounts to $2,000. And that assumes that you also put at least $2,000 into the 401(k).

Steve Hulett said...

My friend showed me one of the letters that was sent out by the union and it said that it was actually over 50% rep cards handed in. The union would know because they collected the card.

Correct. We had 50% cards.

Which is not, by the way, the percentage that grizzled union organizers like to petition with prior to an election, because there is almost always erosion in the percentage count, and certainly was in this case.

Having done this quite a bit, I always figured it was an uphill slog to win a union election at the studio. Generally, you need at least 65% cards to prevail.

Nonetheless, in the meetings that we had employees wanting the union asked us to file for election, so we did. And before we filed, I contacted Claudia K. the studio manager, and told her what was coming.

Look, this deal is a democracy. The Animation Guild lost. Claudia ran an effective campaign persuading employees to vote with the company. Bully for her.

And we get the message. The union deal for union sub-contracts RD has lapsed and won't be renewed. Employees want what the company offers, not the Animation Guild.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you worked at someplace that was not union and then became union? I have and things after the changeover became worse.

What studios became worse when they went union?

I've worked for non-union places that had union folks in them, and because of those union folks, the non-union place was tolerable...for a short time. Everyone wanted to be union, but the job didn't last long enough for the union to come in and have a vote. LAME.



And yes, trust me, the hospital thing was an actual emergency. I would rather not get into specifics. Lets just say I had a choice to drive much further and go to St. Joseph's or quickly get to the hospital right down the street. I felt life was more important than money so chose the closer facility and was penalized for it.

That may not have a thing to do with the union, but the facility your wife ended up at. I know that the closest facility where I'm at doesn't take my current insurance because that facility was caught in some type of insurance scam, skimming money from "patients" who weren't actually patients(long, weird story). Hence, my insurance company won't deal with that facility because they don't want to get scammed.

Most decent hospitals in the general LA area are going to take Motion Picture Insurance because so many people in LA have it. I found Motion Picture to be superior insurance over what's been offered by non-union studios, and that bank of hours has helped me and my family stay covered when I'm not in a continuous union job. RD or any other union studio can't compare to that.

Steve Hulett said...

Any hospital in the Blue Shield Network is covered by the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan.

Out of network, 50% of hospital costs are covered. (Most costs are covered if somebody is geographically outside the Blue Shield Network.)

Lastly, most corporate health plans have employee co-pays for insurance deducted out of wages. The MPI Health Plan does not.

Anonymous said...

Steve, what about emergency trips to an ER? If the hospital the ambulance takes you to isn't part of the Blue Shield Network, what is the coverage?

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind this stooge said he could afford the emergency room visit without insurance. What does that suggest to everyone?
That he isn't working at the same payscale as all of us....and probably not a candidate to vote to go union.

This is probably one of the people that helped slander the union and throw the vote.

Next time RD employees, when you hear this type of rhetoric, recognize that it is coming from management and not your fellow employee

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone,

I'm another RDS employee and this very disrespectful guy certainly does not speak for all of us.

Quit it man, you're an embarrassment to the studio for speaking that way!

Like it or not, the vote didn't pass. Sure most of us would like those union benefits, but we all signed up for employment here as non-union employees. A point was made by management that the people who come through here are often temporary, and certainly could get employment at a union studio if that was their prerogative. I felt that if the management who was responsible for getting the studio up and running and will remain when many of us have left for greener pastures wanted so strongly to keep their studio the way it was, so be it, I can respect that.

Did we screw ourselves out of better benefits? Absolutely. But personally, It felt wrong to force a mom and pop studio like RDS to fork over more money for better benefits when we can find employment at a studio that already does.

Anonymous said...

And we get the message. The union deal for union sub-contracts RD has lapsed and won't be renewed. Employees want what the company offers, not the Animation Guild.

Realize what this means for RDS, folks. A major source of income and employment for Rough Draft in recent years was the subcontracted work on the UNION production of The Simpsons movie, which RDS could do because they signed a deal with the union. What Steve is saying is that, when the next Simpsons movie happens (and it likely will), Rough Draft won't get the chance to ride that gravy train. Smart move, Claudia. Penny wise, and pound foolish.

Steve Hulett said...

Steve, what about emergency trips to an ER? If the hospital the ambulance takes you to isn't part of the Blue Shield Network, what is the coverage?

The general rule is: In an emergency, patient goes to nearest ER to get stabilized, then gets transferred to an in-network hospital.

The Plan covers emergencies. (Always a good idea to check with the Plan for specifics; from memory, that's the way it works.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve, that's what I thought.

The anti-union guy up the thread who claimed that he was forced to pay for his ER treatment when he was under the union healthcare plan either got ripped off by the hospital, or isn't telling the truth.

Crystal Chesney-Thompson said...

re: anonymous June 5 12:25-and others

I feel the need to post because I assume, when you refer to the "director who was bad mouthing the union" you mean me.. As I was the only director at RD who spoke openly about my past dealings with the union. However, I feel I am being misrepresented as I am not the person who posted most of you are responding to.
For transparency's sake-I am responsible for the "we just didn't want the union" statement and NO OTHER statements on this blog (until this one)
I don't see what is "suspicious" about this statement. I suppose I should have said "I" didn't want the union at RDS. I used "we" because many of my friends agree with me.

Also, in regards to the "bad-mouthing":
I don't appreciate the fact that any statements that are not PRO Union are being treated like slander or "smears" Just because some of you have had nothing but good dealings with the union, does not mean those of us who have had BAD dealings are lying. I wish I could LOVE the union.
The very idea of artists banding together and a group of people who support us when we cry for help sounds AWESOME! I was so starry eyed when I first joined.
Unfortunately, my negativity towards the union started within weeks of my joining.

I know some people LOVE the union... I am just not one of them. I also don't HATE the union. I have worked Union and non-union jobs and seen VERY little difference in how I personally was effected.
I like working at RD and if I was offered a position at a union shop, I would not turn it down just because it was union.

I asked to hear people state the positive about the union, but I was able to get ONE good story. ONE. I appreciate that people are posting more here.

I have multiple bad dealings with union reps. I have friends who have had similar experiences.
RD staff has never threatened me verbally, but a Union rep did- when I called for help.
My opinion after that was only worsened when I recently read through the union contracts again to find that there WAS a way to deal with my grievance, but that was not explained in a civil tone at the time. Shouldn't we feel like our union is there to help us? We should not fear having to contact the union reps, but I do.

I have heard countless stories about how Union members who needed help were told "oh, yea? you think THATS bad?" and then nothing was done to better the situation.

Early on, I asked what we could do to change things and was told by a Union rep, that we pretty much put ourselves in the situation we are in, we are powerless and
there is no way to get what we want "unless you are willing to walk off the job"
I have since researched this to find that there is a NO STRIKE clause. So our union can't even do that.

Since the RD payscale has been brought up.. let me make this point: I was offered MORE at RD when I started my animation career -fresh out of school in Layout, then I was later paid through a Union studio as an animator.
I like that their pay tends to be above union.

Okay.. so the Union offers a DIFFERENT Health and Retirement plan. I can't seem to get a straight answer on this. People I don't know personally have had great experiences and people I do know have been treated badly. I would love to believe it is great insurance, but my first hand experience leads me to distrust. I have HAD Union health and I didn't see how it was THAT great or that bad. Sure, its was fine, but since the RD plan works well enough, I am fine with that too.

I know I don't speak for all of RD, but I do speak for myself and I am not afraid to do so, which seems to have gained me a reputation. I respect my fellow artists and wish we could talk openly about things.

-yours - not anonymously.

vfxsoldier said...

I never said being anti-union was a smear, I saw the untruthful accusations leveled at the guild (ie no health insurance for ER, the pension won't exist) and said those were clearly smears.

60 comments later we finally have someone attempt to state why they didn't vote for the guild AND STILL nothing but vague anecdotal evidence.

Crystal above posts how awesome the idea a union presents by banding together and then totally contradicts herself with anecdotal evidence of "VERY little difference in how I personally was effected."

Crystal I commend you for saying who you are and your personal reasons for rejecting the guild. You personally have a sweet deal but what about the other people you work with? What about the new kid starting? What if he/she gets laid off losing health insurance and can't find a job for 6 months? What if he/she gets married, has children? Did you ever think about those people?

Hey I'm doing hunky dory at a non-guild facility but that doesn't mean I get to turn a blind eye to the fact that others in my industry are being crushed.

I agree there are issues with the union, it's not perfect and while I'm no longer a member I would encourage you to go to the membership meetings and formally complain.

There is a NO STRIKE clause because the union doesn't have the leverage to ask for it. How can they get leverage when people like yourselves won't even join?

What have we become? Our own worst enemies.

Anonymous said...

Your question was answered earlier, you just didn't like the answer.

I do not have piles of money. I had to go to my closest emergency room without checking to be sure if the union covered that facility because I was in blinding, stabbing pain.

Thanks though for the implication that I have so much money that I can just go where ever I please-my spouse and I had a hearty laugh over that one.

RD insurance covers you 100% no matter what Emergency room you go to. After the experience I had, I wanted to be sure to ask. It is something I would have never thought about until going through what I did.

This is not propaganda, this is from my own experience. Other people have their reasons to be pro union and they have that right. I am certain that their reasons are just as valid as I view mine to be.

I resent the concept that so many come on hear and think that their side is vindicated enough to view anyone's opinion who is in opposition to be propaganda, slander or some sort of plot by management.

The assessment that the union has no leverage because people will not join and therefore has no strike clause is ridiculous. The union has more studios under its contract than ever. If it can't have enough leverage at this point, I don't suspect it ever will.

I too agree with the concept of artists banding together to make the workplace better for all. I was pro union to an extent until a few years ago. It just started to feel that it was more about keeping the union going than it was about actually helping artists in need of help in the workplace.

It feels like the union has just thrown its hands up, with not much to offer other than its retirement and its health care. Maybe for me that just isn't enough.

Anonymous said...

"...There is a NO STRIKE clause because the union doesn't have the leverage to ask for it. How can they get leverage when people like yourselves won't even join?"

How can you ask individuals to walk for an organization that can't even do it themselves?!?

"...Crystal I commend you for saying who you are and your personal reasons for rejecting the guild."

Yeah, ok, "vfxsoldier"...

Anonymous said...

Respect to Crystal. For having the guts to come on here and not be anonymous like so many others. Including myself.

I'm pretty indifferent about the union. It has some good and some not so good. (btw- I've too had some not so nice encounters with a certain rep. It has put a sour taste in my mouth too.)

Anonymous said...

For real! Go Crystal!

vfxsoldier said...

on the NO STRIKE issue:

I should have checked the facts before I said anything.

It turns out WE DO have the right to strike. Its the same provision every union including SAG and WGA has. We are not allowed to strike while the contract is in effect:

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2006/03/no-strike-clause.html

Anonymous said...

and the company that you are striking against has the right to replace you...permanently

Anonymous said...

There is a NO STRIKE clause because the union doesn't have the leverage to ask for it. How can they get leverage when people like yourselves won't even join?

Even I know Crystal is wrong about the no strike clause. This has been written about on this blog a hundred times, to the point I can quote it for you: EVERY union contract has a no-stike clause, including "bad-ass" unions like SAG and the WGA and the Teamsters. Every one. It's not a matter of weakness. When studios sign union contracts, it means the studio agrees to do certain things, and the employees agree to do certain things. As long as the studios don't violate the contact, the employees agree not to strike. When the contract is up, and negotiations aren't going right, then a strike is an option. That's how it is for SAG and the WGA, that's how it is for TAG. So what else is Crystal wrong about?

And what does the union rep tell people when the complain to the union? He doesn't tell them 'let's go on strike.' He tells them he'll file a grievance, if they want him to. I've been in that place. It means you have to put your name on a grievance. And we all know how animators like to stay anonymous. I know from talking with the rep that many people aren't willing to stand up, so they want the union to magically fix a problem without mentioning their name. It's childish.

People have this idea that the union should provide them a backbone. It often seems to me that, in order to justify working under crappy conditions, we need a scape goat for why things are miserable. We can't look in the mirror, and we don't want to bite the hand that feeds us (even when we're treated like crap), so we blame "the union" and call it a day. Except we're the union, and when we smear it and expect it to magically benefit us without our REAL support, we're just being children.

I can't believe how many people supposedly have had their sensitive feelings hurt by the mean old union rep. I guess animators can only grow a pair when they're anonymously blogging.

Oh, and the RDS pay scale? It was my first real job out of school. I worked 80-100 hours a week, and got paid for 40. Claudia Katz bought a $1.25 million dollar house in Beverly Hills while I was there. That was when the average LA house cost about $200,000. I sure as hell couldn't afford a house. But I can now. Did I mention I've been at a union studio for awhile, and now I get paid for my work?

Oh, and people don't like the way Hulett talks to them? Try going in and asking Claudia for your overtime pay. I did. There's nothing Hulett has ever said to me that was half as bad as that experience.

Anonymous said...

I may be over-generalizing here, and I certainly don't know the people involved in this thread, but I have found over the years that the people who complain most about the "NO STRIKE" clause:

a) don't realize that every union has one; and,

b) are the least likely people to ever agree to join a strike or work stoppage.


Anyone who complains about the no-strike clause, but then takes management's side on whether unionizing is going to be a net positive or not, is being disingenuous. You would be willing to deny all of your co-workers the tangible superior benefits of the union over that bogus issue?? Seriously??

Anonymous said...

Mad props to Crystal. Not for speaking out openly, but for being a permanent fixture at Rough Draft. She is on their website and is never let go after a project is done. I would post on here openly with if that was my case too. All she is doing is looking good to the producer who has claimed to read this blog.

And she may not be one of the people saying bullshit on here, but I would put money on the fact that that someone close to her is. This person also works at Rough Draft, and no matter if the vote failed this person would STILL get Rough Drafts insurance year round thanks to her.

I would also like to wonder how if Crystal will end up taking union gigs once RDS goes away?

My advice to Crystal, I would not bank retirement based on RDS. The union will be around a lot longer than RDS.

Also, how many more shows will RDS lose to other studios before your producer realizes the only way to keep studio's cost down is to NOT make you a permanent fixture. I think the clock is ticking on this one.

vfxsoldier said...

"and the company that you are striking against has the right to replace you...permanently "

You are right. I should show more loyalty to my employer. Then they will NEVER replace me.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any kind of permanency status with Rough Draft and I totally agree with her.

I'm sure that Tom Klein's house is tiny. That's why all of his union artists are on call and why 40% of Film Roman's staff was let go last year, because he's so concerned about keeping his tiny house and meager lifestyle.

Ever try getting overtime pay at some Union studios? Let's just say that the treatment where I worked on that issue was less than stellar.

I do agree, many in animation look to the union to have a backbone when they have none. However, I know of people who complained to a union rep and in the end, nothing could or would be done.

Anonymous said...

I have HAD Union health and I didn't see how it was THAT great or that bad. Sure, its was fine, but since the RD plan works well enough, I am fine with that too.

Hi, Crystal! Thank you for posting your point-of-view on this thread.

For what it's worth, I would like to share my point-of-view on an individual company's health insurance vs. union health insurance.

In 2000 I worked for a VFX studio which carried its own health insurance. After the owner's grandson embezzled millions of dollars from the company, this studio suffered financial hardship and had to lay off half of its crew, including me. I kept up my health coverage by mailing in COBRA payments. Least, I thought I did.

Turns out this studio dropped its health coverage without telling the employees, even though it was still taking health insurance payments out of employee paychecks and accepting COBRA payments from ex-employees like me. When caught, this studio refunded my last COBRA payment. However, we were not insured and had not been insured for some time. We only *thought* we were insured.

This situation is impossible for a union shop, because union benefits are independent of the studio. A union shop could close doors today and the union employees would not lose their health insurance coverage. With the hour-banking system, health coverage could continue for months without placing financial strain on the artists.

I'd like to add that this VFX shop was not a fly-by-night operation. The company owned its own content. Employees got health insurance only one month after starting employment at the company. Salaries were generous for the more experienced people. The studio had chugged along profitably for several years until the owner's grandson took over and embezzled millions. Just like Rough Draft, it was a great place to work.

However, workplaces can change.

Anonymous said...

It really unfortunate that you had to go through that. I can completely understand why you would be pro union based on your experience.

However, I don't find the argument that a studio will not be around forever a compelling enough reason to force Rough Draft to go union.

I just don't think that the union is effective. That coupled with the changes that they have made in their health care plan in the last couple of years along with issues concerning problems and apparent screw ups with the retirement and pension that I have experienced.

vfxsoldier said...

poster above, could you explicitly state what those changes were?

What was the screw up you experienced with the retirement and pension plan?

What were the changes in the health care plan that you had issues with?

Anonymous said...

I have explained what happened to me in various other places, only to be told that I am a "management troll" or a stooge or lying or somehow unintelligent.

Crystal makes her points and then is accused of blindly believing in her place of work, insulted and having it implied that somehow she will never be able to work a union gig because she was brave enough to post under her own name. This is apparently from a co-worker.


Nice!!!

Will you be bringing this up in person on Monday to have a mature discussion or just continue to hurl insults from behind the shield of anonymous?

What specifics would you like me to cite so that I can again be dragged over the fire?

Anonymous said...

Frankly, there's simply no way to argue that the Motion Picture health plan isn't a superior situation for below-producer(meaning, most all of us)status artists than any company plan. No way whatsoever.

That is because it is, as was said, independent of any given studio/employer. Because it banks hours and continues well after a layoff!
It's dead simple.

The ONLY way this isn't clear or is (stubbornly, if you ask me) ignored by Crystal or others is if they willfully choose to ignore it. You simply can't be that ignorant. Ignorant in the sense of "not understanding" not as an insult.

I have a question for anyone working at a nonunion shop, including a great director who is happy at her studio and is "featured on the [company]website": Is Rough Draft going to continue paying your health insurance if you part ways?

Yes or no?

There lies the difference in a nutshell.

A couple of other things: the union and, yes, its business rep, have disappointed me, too-sometimes bitterly(no offense Steve). BUT the things that are in our contract, the health plan are there thanks to MEMBERS over the decades, thanks to the IATSE, and are there regardless of who is the Rep or President or whether I think they're easy to talk to or not(by the way the "changes" in coverage have been whopping 5-10 copay increases in prescriptions and a few other, extremely minor changes. BFDs, all of them. In other words, not BFDs.).
I think it's incredibly selfish to argue against joining the UNION because Steve blew me off. That's petty. We fucking NEED the union, and whether any of you at RD or elsewhere don't believe it you too benefit from its existence. Like it or not, members or not.
The union is fucking fantastic for the health benefits alone. The FACT that it has over the years meant salaries across the board are stable and have increased and that there are basic rules that must be adhered to is practically gravy as far as I'm concerned.

One last thing: I hate, hate hate the fact that this board is public for exactly the reasons implied by someone saying that the producer reads this. For gods sake, this should be the one place where it's members only, just like the meetings(when business/votes are discussed). It is OUR union's message blog, and I for one want a place where we members can take it private. JMHO.

vfxsoldier said...

Again, for the purpose of clarity, you sited that something got screwed up with your retirement and pension plan.

What was it exactly? I keep hearing it but it's so vague that I can't respond.

What were the changes in the health care package that you had an issue with?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

It's easy to say things like "problems and apparent screw ups with the retirement and pension that I have experienced" and then not back it up. A percentage of the readers will just remember the accusation, even if it's totally bogus.

What's interesting is that when a former Rough Draft employee writes specifically about being required to work 80-100 hours a week for a 40 hour paycheck, all the RD defenders can say is that there are overtime abuses at union studios, too. It's clear that RD is a great place to work, if you're high enough up on the food chain. And if you're not, you just accept that it's a sweatshop where you pay your dues on the way to a real animation job.

By the way, I've used the union health plan. I've been to the closest emergency room to me. I've examined my pension plans. And I can say the health plan is better than any I've had at a nonunion studio, and the pension plans are vastly better, and that they're run professionally. I can also say that when I've asked Hulett to file a grievance for me, he's been happy to do just that.

Anonymous said...

@vfxsoldier

I am a different person than Anonymous 12:02:00PM, but I would like to answer one of your questions.

Medical inflation increases by 10% every year, while regular inflation increases by 3%. This puts pressure on all health plans for all institutions, union or non-union.

I know a tiny VFX shop that had to drop its health insurance in 2009 after Aetna raised the premiums from $4000/month to $10000/month, for example.

I also know an owner of an even tinier VFX shop who had to downgrade his HMO coverage to an HSA-compatible plan with a $3000 deductible this past year after Kaiser raised its HMO rates past what he could afford.

For the union, medical inflation has meant a more modest cut in benefits.

Rough Draft will not be immune to the rising costs of medical inflation. If all Rough Draft offers is HSA-compatible insurance, though, its coverage already pales in comparison to union coverage.

vfxsoldier said...

To the poster above, I completely know about the costs of healthcare going up. I'm at a vfx facility that offers poor coverage which I don't need thanks to the fact I have 17 months of coverage with the guild.

Have the prices for coverage gone up for the guild? Yes but very small compared to others.

Before you could go to the MPI clinic for free, now its 5 bucks. Is that a change that merits getting rid of the union. Absolutely not.

I ask the question to the poster above because it seems they refuse to explicitly state their issues with the pension and the healthcare and those that have HAVE BEEN WRONG!

For example:

The guild can't strike.

NOT TRUE.

The health care doesn't cover emergency visits.

"All covered services when medically necessary are available anywhere in the world from any licensed physician, surgeon or general hospital – $50 co-pay (waived if admitted)."

This is on page 30 of the healthcare plan.

http://www.mpiphp.org/benefits/active_plan/activeplan.htm

I have no association with the guild but I'm forced to defend it because people aren't getting the straight facts. If they hurl a smear it has to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

I went to an emergency room and had to have a procedure done that was, apparently, not covered by the union.

Went through a series of phone calls with motion picture and the hospital to no avail.

All plans are having to cut back, this I know, but I like what is offered through Rough Draft's plan. I will pay cobra for it when I have too.



As for the retirement and pension, I called into question the amount of hours that I had that went towards vestment time. Many, many months of work were not counted under two different studios.

I was told that the two studios must have underreported hours. Really? I can understand it happening at one studio but two? So I am to understand that under two different circumstances of hour qualification that the union didn't screw up but two unrelated places did? It just doesn't add up.

This in combination with the lack of concern about current member issues in contrast with the incredible amount of effort that they put forth to try and make Rough Draft union, for me, was not convincing enough to vote union.


I like how someone has a problem with a producer looking on this blog, but not with all the insults.

Sure, shut it out to non-members. I'm sure that would improve the quality of the conversation.

vfxsoldier said...

To the poster above,

Pertaining to your ER procedure:

Before you were saying that you weren't covered because the hospital you went to, now it was based on the procedure that you had. What was the procedure?

Pertaining to your under reported hours:

How many months did you work for the studios and under what hourly guarantee? What was the amount of hours reported and what was the discrepancy?

Anonymous said...

To the above poster


NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS was my procedure

vfxsoldier said...

Thanks but that doesn't solve the problem and you didn't answer the second question on reported hours.

There is a list of non-covered services on page 60 of the union health plan:

http://www.mpiphp.org/benefits/active_plan/MP_07_SPD_Active.pdf

All of those procedure listed that are not covered are mostly elective procedures. None of those would be covered by the RDS insurance I assume and none of those procedures would occur under an emergency.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is it was an actual emergency. With blood and the whole nine yards.




And that you are a total douchebag.





As for the hours-9 months worked at a union shop, wasn't counted.

Worked at another union shop for almost 3 years-one year counted.

I am happy for the people that have their reasons to be pro union. They have their right to feel so. I only speak for my own feelings and experiences.

Thanks for all the implications.

vfxsoldier said...

When I ask questions it's in response to your vagueness. Apologies if you think I'm a douchebag for asking but I'd like to know what happened.

You worked 9 months under a guild shop and none of it counted? Why? Steve would jump all over a facility that didn't do that.

You worked 3 years at a facility and only 1 year counted? Again, explain to me how the facility reported your hours.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to interrupt, as soldier seems to be getting somewhere.... but, somewhere way way way in the above mentions that RD was a subset of Fox. Which may mean that the insurance offered from RD is actually part of the group that Fox buys into. Therefore, the management at RD is not affording the cost of group insurance as the other smaller vfx houses mentioned. Instead, they are under the umbrella of Fox, who has thousands of employees on their roster. I could be wrong about this, and I do know little about all this other than the insurance industry and the health care industry has been setting up for this for years. And that is only my suspicious opinion, but knowing how greedy and piggy they are, I'll bet they are raping and pilleging the teeming millions, and set to do so for years to come. Perhaps, we'll get lucky and they'll have their own Gulf-Oil-Spill debacle, which shall bring them to their knees.

Steve Hulett said...

TO the commenter who claims his hours at union studios were under-reported.

If true, bring in your check stubs to the office next week, and I will personally walk them down to the Plan so that they can rectify the situation.

TO the commenter who says a union rep was rude and told you to "walk off the job," let me know who it is and I'll correct the incivility.

TO anyone who wants to know about medical inflation: the Plan contains theirs to 9.5% per year. Nationally, inflation is 12%.

Finally:

... I know of people who complained to a union rep and in the end, nothing could or would be done.

Names would be useful.

When somebody comes to me with a grievance, I go through the procedure, give them my best view on the likelihood of success or failure. I file grievances for anyone who wants to proceed, if there are grounds.

Two examples: A member was dismissed after two weeks of employment, was upset about it, wanted to file a grievance. I told them I had no grounds since they were "probationary" for the first 90 days of employment.

Another employee was laid off after 95 days of employment, and TAG grieved and got them extra pay because the studio hadn't written them up.

A month ago we filed a group grievance for employees who had been laid off when the union studio went dark. We got them two weeks of dismissal pay.

Lastly. When commenters here said "a union rep was rude/mean/dismissive, please know that there are lots of union reps and I am but one. I strive to return every phone call, answer every e-mail. And to be polite and respectful. (I owe an answer to one of the posters here. Will get to it next week.)

Cheers.

Steve Hulett said...

somewhere way way way in the above mentions that RD was a subset of Fox.

That was me, I think.

RD is a subset of Fox in the sense that Fox is paying all the bills. No Futurama, no Fox payments, therefore no work for employees at Rough Draft.

That's what I meant by "subset."

Anonymous said...

I do not have pay stubs from my first incident of uncounted hours since it was over 12 years ago. As far as the second studio that I worked for where there was an issue, I will have to check.

It's nice that an individual that was apparently treated badly at Rough Draft wishes for his/her fellow animators to go down with the ship a la oil spill.

If you are the same person, I had a much worse experience with a Union studio, but I do not wish them ill. The more work there is, the better it is for everyone, even if I disagree with their methods. I don't wish unemployment for anyone just out of spite.

I'm glad that you feel that vfx soldier is getting somewhere.

Good for you to exploit the problems of others who disagree with your opinion just to prove a point.

You asked why people voted no, I gave my answer. I should not have to be more specific than that.

Anonymous said...

Come off it. You voted NO because you consider yourself management and your "ma and pa" bosses have probably helped you come to that conclusion.
As for the procedure that wasn't covered it's very clear to everyone from reading your statements what it was and I'm pretty sure that pulling someone's head out of their own ass isn't covered by any health insurance anywhere.

It'll be interesting to see how soon yuou start begging for union work once Futurama is ended and Ma and Pa no longer have need for your valuable services as an arteest and stooge.
I'll personlly keep my eyes out for your resume when it comes across my desk and then share a good laugh with my other poor downtrodden union fellows.

Anonymous said...

I have a question:

When people filed rep cards they were seen by the union, but RDS never saw the cards.
I am to understand that RDS would have put forth a list of employees to the labor board and an impartial individual would confirm that the rep cards were indeed signed by RDS employees. Thus keeping anonymity.

Is this how grievances are handled? If someone (or a group of people) has a problem that is not personal, but studio wide, can they come forth and give their names to the Union, but have an impartial party confirm to the Union studio that the grievance is filed by people who are indeed working at a that union studio? -ie without the studio seeing names, but by a third party confirming names supplied by the studio?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:25

How do you know who you are talking to? You say you will keep your eyes open for their resume, but we are all anonymous here.

I don't like that our Union would start spouting black-list-ish stuff against anyone. We should be trying to help people and convince them why the Union is good.. not threatening people. That if they appear to be anti-union they're gonna 'get it' if they ever come crawling to you for work. We are only going to drive more people away if we sink to that level.

Better to just hope that the time comes when anti-union people DO see the benefit of the union and turn to us for help saying "wow, I guess you were right"

Anonymous said...

I cannot understand someone whining "My union hours never counted, therefore the union sucks," but apparently that person never raised a finger to do anything about it. If your studio isn't reporting your hours, there are plenty of ways you'll know about it. I get regular statements about how many hours I've earned, and I always check those summaries against my paystubs. Steve and the Peg-Board constantly remind us to save our paystubs, and to check our hours yearly.

If a studio isn't reporting your hours, the union won't know about it, and so cannot correct it. Did that occur to you? Did it occur to you to investigate the situation? In that first 9-month stint that supposedly wasn't counted, did you ever get paperwork from the union to join? Did you get your membership card? Did you get your severance pay? I mean, seriously, there aren't mind-readers working at the union. Steve has offered to try to rectify the situation, but I get the feeling you like playing the victim, with the union as the bad guy.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me what procedure I had done.

I am slow to pick up on your cleverness.

Anonymous said...

I recently had 16 weeks work at a union studio. I averaged 60-65 hours a week, all of which were credited. The result was that, with just 4 months work, I had one more vested year in my pension plans, and I had 18 months of first-rate medical care, without cost to me, before I had to go back on Cobra.

Following that, I got a job at a nonunion place. They promised medical benefits after three months, but at the three month mark they changed me to 1099 status. Ten months of work, and no medical or pension benefits at all. But they were a sweet Mom and Pop studio, and were really nice to me, so I sucked it up. Now I realize I was just a chump.

Anonymous said...

oh and just for the sake of being clear:

Yes I got a union card and paperwork.

Yes I got severance pay.

When I worked 12 years ago I assumed that since everything has to go through the union, including I imagine a notice of my layoff, that they would be aware of how long I was employed for, that being nine months.

I fuzzily recall having a conversation with someone from the union when I called after getting a statement that I had no time vested. The jist was that I did not have enough hours to qualify. Being relatively new to the industry, I took them at their word.

Anonymous said...

The union does not monitor your health or pension benefits. That is through the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan. The MPIHPP is supposed to get the information directly from the studio. Studios screw up regularly, hence the union's constant refrain to 'Save Your Paystubs' and 'Check Your Hours,' which I've heard/read regularly since I came into the industry 15 years ago. The union can help you sort it out, but only if they're notified that there seems to be a problem.

It takes 400 hours of work to have a 'qualified year.' Did you not do 400 hours of work? When you called the union, did you inquire how many hours were required to have a qualified year? It doesn't sound to me like you even want to find out what happened. If the union has records of your work (and I know those records are kept pretty much forever), there may still be a chance to intervene.

Light a candle, or curse the darkness. Your choice.

Anonymous said...

It's nice that you explain it to me slow.

It's unfortunate that this was not explained to me when I called 12 years ago for whatever reason. As I said, I was young and new.

I'm sure that many of those I have worked with over the years also have not saved their paystubs. So I don't think that I am alone on this one. Most people that I know have not vested or qualified after years of work.

This is not my only reason for not voting union, as I have mentioned. Considering how many voted no, I imagine there are many others with their own reasons.

Repeatedly telling people that they are foolish, using a threatening tone and calling them liars is no way to win hearts and minds.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, but it seems to have worked for you to convince your 'fellow' employees not to vote union. Did they pay you extra for that or just promise you you'll be their favorite?

But it seems your big reasons for not voting union, so you claim, at least, are that you were stupid and made mistakes (like not saving your paystubs and investigating if you were credited for the time you worked) and decided to blame the union for these problems -oh, and someone was mean to you on the phone.

vfxsoldier said...

An individual on this blog claims that he went to the emergency room and it was not covered because of the hospital he went to.

He then says it was the procedure and it was pretty drastic.

If I was someone in that situation and on this blog anonymously, I would be compelled to explain what happened and what the procedure was to discourage people from joining the guild.

I find is peculiar that just from asking simple questions about it that this individual shoots back at me calling me a douchebag.

Ok fine. Here's the thing though. You know people are reading this blog. You see that people are now really skeptical as you back peddle from your claim.

It's a fact that all er visits are covered by the union health insurance.

There are certain elective procedures (such as breast implants, dermabrasion, etc) that are clearly listed as non-covered procedures.

You can go ahead and shoot off wild claims but the people reading this blog will find the facts out whether you like it or not.

I'm not for black-listing and I think its wrong. We advocates of the guild don't accomplish anything by resorting to the same tactics the opposition resorts to.

You are entitled to your opinions.
You are NOT entitled to your own set of facts.

Anonymous said...

4:51 Anon: The Oil Spill reference was directed at the insurance and health care industry, who shall give you a rate that is exponentially beyond your comprehension when you are shoved off onto COBRA after your thirty day termination from RD. Then when you've exhausted a good portion of your hard earned "above-Union-Scale" savings that you derived from mom and pop RD, you'll get hoisted off COBRA and into an INDIVIDUAL plan, which will cost you a good twice as much as COBRA. Then in several months or so of paying premiums, and being oh-so-very-carefully not to trigger your deductable of $1500 up-front a year or so, you have no more savings. THen you'll be out of the health care system. But oh-wait! There's the Obama healthcare fallback plan that you did'nt want to begin with, because you believe in capitalism and shun socialism (such as what Unionizing is about).
And you'll find by that time, that the healthcare industry and the insurance industry have been hard at work throwing a monkey wrench into that! Remember Prop 103 back in 1988? The mandate on Auto Insurance? Well they are back with their monkey-wrench next week, and I believe its Prop 17, where you can take your insurance rate discounts from one insurer to another. Who is behind it? The INSURANCE COMPANIES. THAT'S what I meant about who should experience a calamity as the oil industry has now exposed itself to. And dont worry, despite BP's promise that they will cover all costs, you can bet you and I are gonna pay for it. If only something can knock the healthcare system into line. But youll have no idea until you are out there without it. Then you're gonna really be mad.

Dont think for a minute I wish the worse on my fellow co-workers. The management that pets and coos the ones they choose to are the ones who passed on the message to vote NO, when something good could have been done for yet another crop of artists.
And I think I was correct in that RD, being a setup for Fox's discharge, reaps the benefits of coat-tailing on Fox's Insurance-Package-Deal.

Anonymous said...

Most people that I know have not vested or qualified after years of work.

Are you really trying to make this claim? Really? If you're a typical animation person, you know dozens and dozens of fellow professionals. So are you claiming that the majority of those fellow animation professionals have worked enough years to qualify for a union pension and for health benefits, but through some kind of incompetency or conspiracy most of those people are not vested and have had their union hours not counted? Am I clear on that? I don't want to misrepresent what you wrote, but that's how I read it.

Steve Hulett said...

If someone (or a group of people) has a problem that is not personal, but studio wide, can they come forth and give their names to the Union, but have an impartial party confirm to the Union studio that the grievance is filed by people who are indeed working at a that union studio? -ie without the studio seeing names, but by a third party confirming names supplied by the studio?

TAG has, on occasion, done group grievances where I've made it clear that I'm filing a grievance on my own for contract violations. Did it at Disney TVA (we won). Did a huge grievance at Disney Feature (we lost.)

But mostly, I don't file anonymous grievances. The studio needs to know who the grievant is.

(Years ago, a freelance board artist hadn't been paid by the Mouse House. I told her I would call the studio -- i.e. do a Step One grievance -- she said "Great! But ... uh ... don't use my name." I told her that would be tough, because the company wouldn't know who to send the check to.)

Long story short: Grievances mostly have to have names attached to them. Is there political blowback? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I usually try and game-plan different solutions with the aggrieved person.

Steve Hulett said...

When I worked 12 years ago I assumed that since everything has to go through the union, including I imagine a notice of my layoff, that they would be aware of how long I was employed for, that being nine months.

We often don't get notices of layoff. We have staff calling studios several days a week to get layoff notices. Studios are often three to six months late with layoff notices, also -- less frequently -- hiring notices.

All these things are contractual requirements, and (technically) we could file grievances when they're not done. But there are only so many hours in the day. The reason we say to members "save your check stubs, read and review your statements" over and over is so that people will be aware and catch these things.

Sorry that you didn't, but we do what we can do. And like I said, if you have those old stubs somewhere, like in a shoe box, I'm happy to follow up.

Steve Hulett said...

Most people that I know have not vested or qualified after years of work.

Here are the facts: It's ten weeks to vest in the Individual Account Plan (400 hours).

It's five qualified pension years (minimum of 400 hours in a calendar year; 2000 hours total) to vest in the Defined Benefit Plan.

Of the people that have come through the office, and there have been thousands, I know of nobody who worked years and yet didn't get vested.

Steve Hulett said...

I like how someone has a problem with a producer looking on this blog, but not with all the insults.

Uh, I run the joint, and I don't have a problem.

And please tell me who I've insulted, please show me where I've done it.

The majority here are anonymous. Nobody knows for certain who anybody is. Some don't like that but it doesn't particularly bother me. I assume that people are who they rep themselves to be, but who knows? Maybe they're really some high school student in Newfoundland having themselves a good time.

vfxsoldier said...

So he's from New Foundland huh.

Mother Fucker...jk

Anonymous said...

I love how the assumption is that I am Republican and against healthcare reform.

To Steve Hulett, I never stated that you insulted anyone. However, in discussion over this topic, some have felt justified in insulting others just for stating opinion. If you actually read the comments here, you would know that. Don't be coy.

Steve Hulett said...

Uh, you miss my point.

Since most everybody is anonymous, to accuse union members of insulting people, union members of "threatening to blacklist" is an assumption based on nothing.

There is no way for you to know who is saying what. There might be ringers in the mix. There might be snotty middle schoolers. Who is saying what is simply unknowable.

No coyness to that at all. It's simply fact.

Anonymous said...

I have two questions for Rough Draft employees who chose Rough Draft health and retirement benefits over union health and retirement benefits.

1) Does Rough Draft offer a plan with better coverage than an HSA-compatible plan? This thread makes it clear that RD offers HSA-compatible insurance, but it does not say if RD offers an HMO/PPO alternative to the HSA-compatible plan.

2) The thread states that Rough Draft will match the first 2% of employee 401(k) contributions, but it does not clarify investment options. In the Rough Draft 401(k), do artists have access to no-load mutual funds with expense ratios lower than 0.50%? Cost matters, and the union 401(k) offers mutual funds with expense ratios as low as 0.19%.

Anonymous said...

Vfxsoldier says:
"An individual on this blog claims that he went to the emergency room and it was not covered because of the hospital he went to.

He then says it was the procedure and it was pretty drastic."


Hey dumbshit. In case you haven't noticed. Most everyone on here is commenting as Anonymous. Ever think these are two different people?

Anonymous said...

Heeeey Abboooooot! Or Doofus, or anti-union shill or whoever you are commenting at 10:13--
It's really really OBVIOUS, DURRRR, that the guy who keeps coming back and talking about his ER visit is the SAME guy, unless there's another loon who is pretending to be the guy who went to an ER that wasn't covered, that was an emergency with "blood & everything", which from a cursory examination of the verbiage seems about as likely as the idea that you're not a dumbshit.

All of which is besides the point: the ER guy is WRONG, utterly wrong, about ER coverage. He's also wrong about what the hours worked under a union contract get you.

There's no room for any debate there. He's wrong and all the whining and invective and name calling from you or him or me ain't going to change the facts of our health plan and pension one iota.

Frankly, there's just no sensible reason whatsoever not to be union. If there were, the DGA and WGA and SAG wouldn't exist. And you'd better believe all the studios in town would love ALL of them to *poof*!-disappear.
But they aren't going to, thank goodness.

Anonymous said...

i think the confusion over tag's ability to strike stems from the fact that they haven't done so since forever, for better or worse.

i think that this also makes it confusing for people when they try to understand what tag's current core issues are, should a job action occur. that would clarify things. wga/sag actions last round made it clear what they are currently about. it did put the word out there in no uncertain terms - laying waste in the process, of course, as these things often do.

Anonymous said...

TAG struck in 1979 and 1983. I work with people who walked the picket line (and some who didn't), and they remember it like it was yesterday.

As for the supposed clarity of the WGA strike, it wasn't so clear at all. They claimed at one point it was about organizing reality TV, then tossed that issue. They claimed it was about representing animation, then backed down about that. They claimed it was about revisiting the dreaded DVD residuals formula, but then pretended it wasn't. They made a lot of noise about new media, and yet not a single writer I know can begin to explain to me what the WGA's position is on new media.

And SAG, they were clear? Fact is, they are a deeply, bitterly divided union, with rabid partisans playing games behind the scenes to grab control of the union, while the industry ground to a halt. Maybe you think 'Unite for Strength' and 'Membership First' had clear agendas, and maybe you can even articulate what the two factions had as their 'core' issues, aside from contempt for their fellow union members. I followed it all pretty closely, and yet all I remember is the noise and drama.

Meanwhile, I think it's pretty clear that TAG's core issues are maintaining/enhancing our pension and health benefits, expanding the number of studios that offer portable benefits, making sure the salary minimums keep up with inflation, and enforcing workplace laws. Doesn't seem that complicated or confusing to me, especially compared to some of our fellow entertainment unions.

Anonymous said...

well, ok. i followed all that bullshit, too, how can anyone working in this town not, and everyone got screwed down the line far worse than any writer or actor.

but you also too easily forget that we heard a lot of how we are all supposed to 'support our brothers' and 'walk the line with them' and 'the gains they get for their issues only help support our own cause, as they set the template for residuals, new media,...'

and most importantly, we all got the whole 'this is how pattern bargaining works, we're all part of the same game, it is all how the game is played' bullshit. and the only core issues that came out of IATSE/TAG was that Tom Short had a shit fit b/c WGA was hell bent on walking. that was the long and short of our core issues.

the rest happened quietly and with little fanfare, in the margins when IATSE had whatever remaining surface to come up and breathe through. so no, it is not a surprise at all that tag core issues are not clear to potential future tag membership.

Anonymous said...

If you believe that potential TAG members have a weaker understanding of how TAG works than they do of how SAG or the WGA work, then you don't run in the same circles I do. You seem to think that TAG should emulate SAG and the WGA in some way. As a long-time TAG member, I couldn't disagree more.

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