Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Big Mouse Walkaround

I took another stroll through Walt Disney Feature Animation. Numerous questions about the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plans, queries like "How long is vesting?" "How is the money invested?" and "How long can I be out of the plan without losing pension benefits?" The other topic of discussion is the large body of work cascading down to production people on "Meet the Robinsons." As one supervisor said to me, "We've got seven months to do a lot of shots, and Lasseter has notes on us making a big picture..." I'm guessing at the keyboard here, but I'm guessing that there is going to be, ahm, some overtime involved for the crew. One first-floor techy said to me, "I'm okay with six-day weeks, perfectly okay. But I don't want to do a lot of seven-day weeks." Okay, so there might be some seven-day weeks. And what I know about seven-day weeks is, when you get into a long-term seven-day grind, you get a lot of folks staring at their monitors and wiping drool off their shirt fronts. "Burnout," I think it's called. Addendum: As we reported back here, the new Disney film logo is getting notice. In an otherwise lacklustre review of "Pirates of the Caribbean Deux," The Hollywood Reporter said: ["Pirates"] also marks the debut of a snappy new logo for Walt Disney Pictures that gives Sleeping Beauty's Castle a glittering city scape in which to shine."


Kevin Koch said...

And for those who don't know the answers to the questions in the first paragraph:

The Defined Benefit Plan (DBP, the "classic" pension) vests after 5 years. The Individual Account Plan (IAP) vests after just one year. Everyone covered by local 839 is automatically in both those plans. And a "qualified year" for vesting purposes is 400 work hours in one calandar year.

The money in the DBP comes to you at retirement as a formula based on hours and years worked. The IAP comes as a lump sum, and is invested for you. The money managers for the IAP are fairly conservative, but they've averaged (from memory) 8-9% per anum since the plan's inception, so they do pretty well. That money will earn compounded interest whether you're working union or not.

As for how long you can be out without losing some of your vesting on the DBP, the general rule of thumb is you don't want to be out for more years than you have vested. So if you have three vested years, then you go work nonunion for two years, then come back to a union studio, you'll continue vesting without a hitch. But say you have two vested years, then you work 4 years nonunion, then you'll be in the unfortunate position of losing vesting on the DBP. Of course you would be vested in the IAP, so you wouldn't lose anything there.

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