The monster Hollywood companies are doing well.
The opening quarter of 2011 saw the shares of a range of entertainment conglomerates hit new multiyear highs as double-digit gains for all sector biggies except Sony Corp. outpaced the broad-based S&P 500 stock index.
The conglomerates' gains, led again by CBS Corp., continued the upward trend that many entertainment stocks had seen in 2010 and even 2009 ...
Of course, many entertainment employees further down the food chain aren't doing so nicely. The big unions and guilds (DGA, SAG, WGA, IATSE) have been taking 2% pay boosts and negotiating to protect their pension plans. TAG tracks wages of members and guess what? Nobody has been getting increases the last few years. Mostly it's "cut this" and "lower that" and "Don't you know we're in the middle of a recession?"
Well, yeah. We are in a recession (or were very recently.) And all the companies are happy to take advantage of the fact that the people working for them are hunkered down in defensive crouches.
"You want to drop my take-home pay by 15%? Sure, why not? I'm just happy I've got a job ..."
In the 1930s, workers got pushed to the wall long enough and hard enough that they finally started pushing back. In 2011, push-back is happening in Wisconsin and some other places, but it isn't yet happening in Tinsel Town. Everybody knows what the unemployment statistics are, and not rocking the boat is the Thought for the Day. I even had one animation artist, working at a small, non-union studio tell me:
"I know I'm not getting great pay, and that the health bennies are weak, but I like working at a little place. Less pressure, you know? More friendly. I never liked working for a conglomerate anyway. They're too big, too impersonal. I like the vibe here."
Of course, the guy was working for a shop that sub-contracted work from a conglom, so in reality he was working for the same multi-national that the hard-pressed union employees were. He was just earning less money and benefits.
But I was polite, and didn't point these things out. It would have just ticked him off. But I'll be talking to him again when he fully processes how he's getting hosed and he's ready to push back. When that day comes -- and the way things are rolling the date will occur sooner rather than later -- I'll give him a representation card.