Monday, August 28, 2006

Running Hard to Stay in Place

In the 1970s, the IATSE and other labor unions negotiated big percentage raises in minimum-rate wages. They sort of had to, since inflation was chewing up everybody's standard of living. Now here we are, thirty-plus years later, and the IA (along with other unions and guilds) has negotiated 3 or 3 1/2 percent wage increases over the last couple of contract cycles. Trouble is, it isn't enough to keep pace with actual, real-world inflation. (4-6% anyone?) This article from today's New York Times gives some unsettling statistics... Per the TIMES: ...Wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960's. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as "“the golden era of profitability." Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers' benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data... The entertainment biz, of course, is somewhat better off than other economic segments of the U.S.A., but we also take our hits. I remember when wages were sky-high in animation ten years ago. The good times, sadly, don't roll at the same velocity in 2006.


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