Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Artists' Stand Paying Off

In November of 2012, we wrote about artists who had filed a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles against The Mill and Yurcor. The issue: employee wages were being deducted to pay the employer's taxes. The artists have now reached a settlement with the companies, which has been preliminarily approved by a federal court judge. The hearing for final approval is scheduled for April 2014.

As soon as I took my position as the Guild’s organizer, I was asked about the legality of wage deductions artists were forced to accept with Yurcor when working at The Mill. After seeing the “payroll tax” that was levied on them and thinking something wasn’t right, I did some research. Shortly thereafter, I contacted the Guild’s attorney, and started to reach out to artists to see if there was any interest in legal action.

The Guild is extremely happy to hear that the artists have prevailed in this matter. We are glad to have been able to help and hope that visual effects artists can take note of the importance. However, we are also aware that the wage deduction practice has not been stopped, but has only taken on a new shape.

Those few artists who led the charge have helped over two hundred of their friends and colleagues benefit financially from the court’s decision. More importantly, this shows that artists have the ability, and therefore the POWER, to take actions to improve their working conditions.

The decision to act, individually or together, is always an option. If you are ready and interested in making a change in your workplace, let us know by signing a card, or feel free to email me.


Jeff Massie said...

Let me be the first (online at least) to congratulate you and Stu on this important precedent. Here's to no more payroll burglary!

Steven Kaplan said...

Thanks Jeff. Good to hear from you!

Joel Fletcher said...

"However, we are also aware that the wage deduction practice has not been stopped, but has only taken on a new shape."

What does this mean, exactly?

Steven Kaplan said...

As far as I can tell, Yurcor is still charging an "Administration Fee" to artists. This fee likely goes towards their payroll costs. My original concern was their practice of a "Payroll Tax" which apparently was founded. However, it isn't illegal to charge a fee for their service to both the VFX Shop and the artist.

I've heard reports from artists that Yurcor is also being more transparent about this charge before an artist agrees to the service.

Kevin Klonyon said...

This is great news!

Bob Dobbs said...

How much of the settlement is making it down to the artists? I spotted this article indicating that a previous $1.35M settlement deal was blocked, due to the judge thinking that paying $1M of that to the lawyers was unreasonable. Sounds like we're all in the wrong business. ;-)

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