Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The General Membership Meeting

On Tuesday night the Animation Guild held its November membership meeting. It always happens two days before Thanksgiving, and we usually get a turnout that could almost fill a broom closet. But this time we got a robust turnout of designers, art directors and board artists. ...

The reason is we tub-thumped a bit, spotlighting storyboard issues and oncoming contract negotiations. The meeting lasted an hour longer than usual. Some of the topics:

* Animation employment continues to grow on the T.V. side of the animation biz, and overall jobs have hit new highs. DWA TV has started hiring staff for its Netflix shows, Disney TVA and Nick are adding shows, The Simpsons was renewed for its 26th season; some Simpsons staff think the show will go thirty seasons.

* Health and Pension Plans are in good shape, and TAG's 401(k) Plan now has $160 million in assets with 2300 participants and an average account balance of $65,000. The ACA hasn't significantly impacted the MPI health plan, except that individuals can now keep children under MPI coverage until 26, and if a participant falls off the Plan, she/he has two options: extend coverage under COBRA (as before) or purchase a medical health plan on "Covered California."

* Executive Board election results were reviewed, and new board members introduced. (There are five new incoming e-boarders.) It was noted that the Costume Designers' Guild recently completed election with a 50% participation rate came about via on-line voting. There was a discussion about instituting on-line voting for the next Animation Guild election.

* There was lengthy discussion regarding unpaid overtime and work schedules that aren't expanded when there are union holidays.

* There was discussion about job classifications and expanded work responsibilities and the need for shop stewards to let the business representative know when artists are working out-of-category. There was a report on the growing roles of shop stewards at studio sites. TAG now has 23 shop stewards (including officers and board members, who serve as stewards in the studios.

* There were suggestions and discussions about rating studios' work environments and schedules on designated social media, also in craft meetings where information would be shared.

* The business representative gave a report on the just-concluded DGA (Directors Guild of America) and AMPTP negotiations. The DGA achieved 2.5%/3%/3% wage bump-ups over three years, also pension increases.

The biz rep noted that the DGA template will likely set a pattern for the WGA, SAG-AFTRA and IATSE contract talks yet to come.TAG negotiations will probably take place in the Spring and early summer of 2015. Early contract planning will begin in the first quarter of next year. ...

There were a lot of younger members in attendance, which bodes well for the future. Also a good number of veterans.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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