Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Working Overtime

So in the recent by and by, I had a meeting with the crew of a successful animated series at one of our signator studios. I advised them that it was a good idea to not do uncompensated overtime. (There's a surprise.)

My talking points:

Employee Practices

1. Work a full eight hours. If you take a long lunch, stay over at the end of your normal eight-hour day. If you go to the dentist for an hour or two, make up the time.

2. When you work a ninth or tenth hour, put it down on the time card as the ninth or tenth hour.

3. If you come to work on Saturday, understand that it's your sith day of work and paid at time and a half.

4. If you work on Sunday, know that it's paid at double time (this assumes you've worked Monday through Saturday.)

5. Encourage others not to work uncompensated overtime.

6. Fill out your time card accurately, (It's a legal document).

7. If you are asked to "put down eight hours" on your time card when you've worked nine, ask (politely) if the person is saying you are t0 falisfy the timee card.

8. Being honest about how long it takes for you to complete a job helps the employer accurately track how long production work actually takes. (You're really not doing the company favors by lying about it).

Overall, I thought it was a good meeting. Everybody understood the usefulness of declining to work extra hours for no pay. I said I understood that there's a lot of pressure on artists to "meet the schedule" even as management shortens it. But I pointed out (as I always do), that the more they work free overtime to meet the schedule, the more the bar gets raised and the more they're cutting their own throats.

As the meeting broke up, an artist came up and said: "You know, they've cut next season's schedule and the board people on staff are already pulling all nighters to keep up with the work."

I replied that it's important for them to work an honest forty hours and do as much as they can, but not knuckle under to an unreasonable schedule by cheating. (Which, of course, is easy for me to say since I'm not the employee who's under the gun.)

As the artist left, I said that I knew it was tough for board artists to hang together and not work unpaid overtime, but if they didn't, they faced a pretty lousy reality.

I guess we'll see what happens. In the meantime, I hope to have meetings at other studios.


Anonymous said...

Solidarity is really lacking among the artists. It's sad to work alongside people who are controlled by fear.

Anonymous said...

It's really a form of union busting. What the studio really wants to do is hire the same amount of artists but pay them significantly less, supposedly to compensate for the bad economy. Since the union contract won't let them do that, they are trying to save the money by hiring fewer artists and forcing them to work extra hours for nothing under threat of losing their jobs, effectively lowering their salaries. They are probably hoping to force a union give-back with this petulant, spiteful abuse of their staff.

What they deserve is a strike. They deserve to miss air-dates and be sued by the network. If they are not satisfied with their profit margin, perhaps they should sell this "blue chip" show to another production company who would be thrilled to have it.

Anonymous said...

this union will never strike.

it doesn't even have the authority to strike(and the studios know it).

Anonymous said...

A friend and I were speculating the other day on what it would mean if the business manager really had the power to to tell all 839 members in a studio "pencils down" if he found some no-no. I'm sure if HE knew and the STUDIO knew that it would mean that Show X wouldn't ship because a prod mgr had people do unauthorized OT, they'd shit themselves-and make sure that those little things never, never happen. Teamster, live action/on set power. It'd be interesting.

Anonymous said...

"it doesn't even have the authority to strike"why the hell not? this might be the only way for the artists to send a clear message to the network

Anonymous said...

IATSE would have to approve it.

Anonymous said...

How did the Sit Down Shut Up writers strike? I know they were not part of the Writers Guild (because that's what the strike was about), so should they technically have been able to strike? And can a group of artist just walk out from one company and not have it be a TAG wide strike?

Steve Hulett said...

It's really quite simple.

Don't. Work. Free. Overtime.

Problem is, in the eighteen years I've been doing this, artists have too often allowed themselves to be ruled by fear.

Anonymous said...

A uninanimous "CALL IN SICK DAY" be a better option than a strike? At least with that you don't have to get IATSE approval.

The artists will only lose ONE day of work and it sends a message. The trick is, ALL artists have to do it on the same day.

Anonymous said...

The issue of whether the IA would approve a "strike" is bogus. You can't strike when the contract is in effect. That's not a rule imposed by the big, bad IA. It's Labor Law 101.

It's also a bogus issue that is destined (I almost said "designed") to divide the labor force, since in these economic times the "S word" will have people reflexively running for cover when they should be united.

A one- or two-day "sickout" would make the point better than pointless strike talk, but only if you have true solidarity.

Anonymous said...

The paradox continues ever onward. Unfortunately, we have all helped vote in a policy of perpetual bailout that, as we speak, is destroying our salaries through inflation. It is likely going to get much worse than the pathetic percentage raise built into the IATSE contract. There are simply not enough little boxes on the timecard to fill in that would offset the losses we will be incurring.

On a brighter note, the one thing we do still have that actually has real worth is our drawings. That is indeed real currency. Perhaps the only one that matters in times like these.

Aniranter said...

It's really quite simple.

Don't. Work. Free. Overtime.
Read it.

Believe it.


It's YOUR lives and happiness at stake. The studios have NO LOYALTY to you even when you make their shitty schedules. SO STOP IT.

Anonymous said...

Steve you forgot to add "DONT BRING WORK HOME" to that list, unless you're hiread as a freelance artist.

Steve Hulett said...

Okay. Here goes.

Don't Bring Work Home!This means YOU!

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