Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day

...The quaint old holiday that celebrates people who work (and mostly have to work) for a living.

From the AFL-CIO website:

Union membership helps raise workers' pay and narrow the income gap that disadvantages minorities and women. Union workers earn 30 percent more than nonunion workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary work were $833 in 2006, compared with $642 for their nonunion counterparts.

The union wage benefit is even greater for minorities and women. Union women earn 31 percent more than nonunion women, African American union members earn 36 percent more than their nonunion counterparts, for Latino workers, the union advantage equals 46 percent and for Asian American workers, the union advantage is 8 percent.

You can call the above Union Propaganda. I call it Truth.

When I came into the entertainment industry in October 1976, I earned a trainee's salary of $135 per week.

A month before, I'd been a Navy veteran attending school on the G.I. bill. When I landed the Disney gig, I dropped out of Cal State Northridge and worked at the Mouse House full-time. I had Motion Picture Health Plan benefits that paid for everything. Idiot that I was, I had no idea that this was highly unusual, even then. I was twenty-seven years old.

The wage seems laughable now, but it was a fortune during the final days of the Gerald Ford Administration. Out of that princely sum I paid my half of the rent on a large mid-Valley apartment, paid the car insurance and the gas, paid for food and amenities and had cash left over.

One hundred and thirty-five dollars, the "trainee" minimum rate under the Animation Guild contract. There were, in 1976,non-union animation studios that were paying journey storyboard artists less.

TAG President Emeritus Tom Sito tells us why all the above is important:

Truth is, there has been a war on organized labor in America since 1980. Back then 27 % of America was union labor, over 55% of us had medical insurance and for every dollar you made your employer made $29. Today union membership is down to 8%, for every dollar you make your boss makes $365 dollars and over 47 million people have no health insurance at all.

Tom also never tires of sharing the advice Disney animator Frank Thomas gave him decades ago: "Whatever else you do, support your union..."


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