Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Organizer's Notes: Learned Complacency

In the past few weeks, discussions of how and why Visual Effects should organize have permeated our fine internet. While the topic is certainly not new, its good for everyone when new perspectives and voices enter the arena.

What does remain constant (and is growing stale), are the arguments against organization. What I continue to find interesting are the reasons for such vehement stands against the bettering of one's life. Why would someone take such an active stance against what could be a huge positive change?

Earlier, I subscribed this reticence to fear. This fear also manifests itself in a much angrier and self righteous way. One commenter in VFX Soldier's blog called it Learned Complacency.

This argument is generally evoked from those who have accepted the short comings of the industry. They state that since they've done the leg work of finding ways to live with those detractions, everyone else can as well. They also generally call unions "mother hens" and say they don't need to be "coddled" in the workplace.

Learned Complacency is born from the notion that there is nothing that can be done about the state of the industry. Since the artist elected to join in the workforce, there is an implied contractual acceptance of the pitfalls that come with it. The broken labor laws, the collusion, the misrepresentation as an Independent Contractor, the exorbitant costs of unionizing, all of these are in the fine print and should just be considered par for the vfx course.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Organizing Visual Effects and the artists and laborers who make up its ranks would do more than just provide a seamless cloak of health and pension benefits. It would provide a voice against such blatant attempts at cutting costs across the backs of those who make it happen. It would give the artist leverage by balancing the decision making power in the workplace. That's why the fight is so strong and so important.

What needs to be done is elegant in its simplicity. Sign and return a Representation Card. When the time comes, vote to have the IA represent you as your bargaining agent. Its a small step to take in the pursuit of improving your life and securing your future.


Anonymous said...

Those people feel that everyone else SHOULD have to experience what they've gone through and do the leg work, because they had to. They have been bitten in the past and are now bitter about it. Self-righteous is a perfect description for them. They think they're king shit, don't like newcomers and are unresponsive to change and they will be the downfall of this industry.

I've tried numerous times to help persuade and point out the benefits of unionization to a few of those holds-outs. Unfortunately, they can't be swayed without a fist.

Steve Kaplan said...

While a fist is more than I'm willing to use, I can't agree more that with some people, the realization that union membership could be a positive change in their life takes more time than with others.

Resistance to change and a fear of things new are much bigger problems to those people than organization. The industry is changing all the time and unless one changes with it, the question of union membership is a moot to them. They'll not have the chance to vote, since they'll be out of the game all-together.

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