Monday, June 01, 2009

Questions We Get Asked (Part Two)

Q: (From the wage survey questionnaire) Why does TAG allow non-union staff to be hired when union people are unemployed? Most other unions do not allow that. Good going!

A: Some unions block newer, non-union entrants, others don’t ...

There are IATSE unions that have a “roster system,” meaning that employers hiring staff in union-represented categories must hire from union members on the roster, which is maintained by the Contract Services Administration Trust Fund, part of the Alliance for Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The Animation Guild has no roster system. When the guild was founded in 1952, the original officers didn’t set one up, most likely because the Screen Cartoonists Guild, TAG’s rival at the time, also had no roster.

But I’m guessing.

The IATSE roster system, as it now exists, is far more open than it was twenty-plus years ago. At that time, rules were stringent for getting on union rosters; because of that stringency, a large non-union workforce of film workers who didn’t qualify for roster placement developed.

In the late 1980s, the numbers of disaffected “off roster” film workers became almost overwhelming. And movie production companies were happy to use them because A) they were less expensive, and B) they disliked the IA for locking them out of union work in the first place … and were therefore hard to organize. By 1990, over 40% of movie production work was non-union. And IA unions with rosters were forced to relax their rules for entry in order to survive.

So this … ah … “keep the newcomers out” thing has its downside.

The Animation Guild, like SAG, the WGA and some other IA locals, has no roster from which studio employees must be hired. The guild has a Seniority Clause in its contract, but since the mid 1980s that clause has given employers wide leeway in their hiring practices.


Anonymous said...

"The guild has a Seniority Clause in its contract, but since the mid 1980s that clause has given employers wide leeway in their hiring practices."

In other words, It's totally ignored. Got it.

Not being sarcastic...well, maybe a little.

But more than one perfectly good, experienced, not-a-troublemaker artist has been "laid off" only to have a trainee making 1/10th the salary hired immediately before of after said layoff. This was going on decades ago when things were hopping and it goes on right now. We all know why a studio does this, The question is, why is it impossible for the union to do anything about it? Why can't a studio face a painful fine for it, or ANY sort of compeuppance?

It's just business.

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