The VES is concerned:
Pointing a finger at the troubling business climate that has plagued the VFX industry for years, the Visual Effects Society sent out an open letter to the entertainment industry Tuesday, charging the VFX workers don't receive proper credit, benefits or working conditions. ...
Fifteen years ago, I talked to an effects supervisor at Disney who thought the viz effx business had become cutthroat, what with congloms putting tentpoles out for bid to the least expensive sub-contractors available. And salaries and working conditions beginning to get squeezed.
A decade and a half on, the big fear among many visual effects employees is runaway production. (Between you, me and the boys in the locker room, regardless of the fear the C.G. pie continues to grow, and work continues to expand in Southern and Northern California. Because studios still have a desire to hit their release dates and maintain some semblance of quality control.)
It's nice that VES is putting out press releases regarding not-great working conditions, but where have they been the last fifteen years? The problems aren't new, and aren't going away anytime soon. And labor unions -- ours included -- have been slow off the dime. Just today we received an e-mail from a member working in visual effects who says the old-timers get the usefulness of being in a labor organization but the younger crowd's attitude is "Eenh. Who needs this?"
It's a cost-benefit construct, you see. Twenty and thirty-somethings need to be convinced that the costs of rocking the boat are less than the rewards of health coverage, pension benefits and structured wage minimums. (For as long as I've been paying attention, lots of C.G. artists have been libertarians, believing that they can prosper on their own ... and unions are for collectivist wimps. We'll see if that holds moving forward. If things get crappy enough, it might not.)