Monday, July 23, 2012

Negotiating Committee statements: #1 of 3

The Executive Board has voted that members of the Negotiating Committee may submit statements about the negotiations.

Three members of the committee have submitted statements, which were published in the July
Peg-Board and will run over the next three days.

Ratification ballots will be mailed by the American Arbitration Association by July 30.

The contract negotiations were hard fought and I firmly believe that our side got about the best possible deal it could in that room, at that time. I know, because I was there.

Having said that, you should vote against ratification. Here is why.

To begin with, it’s a crappy deal. We got nothing we asked for. No end to abusive board tests. No new job classifications. No pay parity with live action writers. The studios wouldn’t even agree to extend production schedules to allow for holidays. All we got were the same scraps they threw to our parent union IATSE; 2% wage increases (on the minimum rates that most of us are already above) and a slightly crappier, but still intact health plan.

Why did we get a crappy deal? Two reasons. First, the National IATSE contract vote was still pending. IATSE VP Mike Miller told us they were never going to give us anything more than the national union got for fear of sinking that vote.

Second, they don’t respect us. We warned them our members were sick of abusive tests, impossible schedules and second class treatment compared to live action productions. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that their response to each issue was basically “so what?”

Why your “No” vote can get us a better contract-

The National IATSE vote is now in and they accepted their crappy deal. So the first barrier to our getting a good deal is gone. Taking down that second barrier is up to us.

Vote “No.” Send us back to the table with a mandate from a pissed-off union to do better. Our contract expires at the end of August. This time the studios will be facing an aggressive union, and a ticking clock to prevent their biggest fear, a production disruption. For once, we will have the power.

I know most members would prefer to never have to deal with the business side. But we need to lose this mentality that we “are lucky to get paid to do something we love.” You aren’t in this union because you are lucky. You are here because you are talented. Because you can do things that very few people on earth can do. You deserve respect. You deserve good working conditions. You deserve fair pay. But you have to be willing to stand up for these things. VOTE NO and send us back to the table to get them.

— Jack Thomas


Steve Hulett said...

TAG completed drawn out contract negotiations with the AMPTP in June. MOA Language was finalized in July. The broad outlines:

2% wage increases in each of the next three years; an increase of $1 in the Health and Pension benefits package (from $5 to $6 per hour.)

Changes in DWA Sideletter E; change in one contract wage rate (Apprentice Storyboard.)

The Executive Board and Negotiating Committee voted to endorse ratification of the contract package. The vote was not unanimous.

Unknown said...

While it would be nice if the union could magically regulate tests a better solution would be if artists just refuse to take any test that is excessive (frankly I think any test is excessive for anyone that's become a journeyman member). After all I'm not sure what having union guidelines will do if the artist being offered the test doesn't complain to the union and our willing to go public with the accusation. If they won't refuse the test on their own why would they be willing to let the studio know they complained about the test to the union?
If you're not willing to refuse the test altogether just do what you feel is acceptable and turn it in. Just keep in mind any studio willing to handout a test that is excessive will probably be willing to make demands of your work that are excessive as well.

Steven Kaplan said...

We don't necessarily want the studio to know that any specific artist has complained about the test. We want to be able to go back to negotiations in three years time and say "You wanted proof that testing was excessive?! Here it is". And with that, be able to adjust the language in the contract accordingly.

It will still be a point of contention since the producers have never been ones to waver in the face such things as logic or even overwhelming proof. But, the more we have on the matter, the better our position will be.

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