Monday, July 18, 2016


What I said in this month's Guild newsletter, The Peg-board:

Whether you think change is a net positive or negative, change happens. And change will be coming to the Animation Guild this Fall and Winter.

I will be retiring as Guild business representative as of December 6th. I will also be leaving the Animation Guild’s executive board after 33 years. (I served as Guild Vice-President from 1983 to 1986, then served as a board member until 1989 when I became Business Representative).

Jack Thomas, our Guild President, will also be stepping down and leaving the board. And a number of long-serving officers and board members will be departing as well, which means the Animation Guild will have more empty chairs to fill than at any time in recent memory.

So here’s my pitch to any active, qualified member reading this: If you want the animation industry to get better and stronger, if you want the artists, writers and technicians working in it to be more fairly compensated for their work and treated in more enlightened ways, if you believe the industry can be made better from top to bottom, then come to the General Membership Meeting on Tuesday September 27th , and throw your hat in the ring. Run for an Animation Guild office.

“That sounds real good, Steve, but I don’t know a damn thing about serving on the Guild’s executive board! Or being an officer!” ...

Experience has its place, but it’s not a prerequisite. When I came to the Guild’s General Membership meeting back when Reagan was President, I had no idea anybody was going to nominate me for Vice President or anything else. I had been through a long Guild strike, but I had been to three union meetings in my life. I barely knew where the union hall was. I was pretty much a blank slate (putting it kindly) as regards union politics. But I got myself elected, started serving as the new Veep, and learned.

And I found out, as President Emeritus Tom Sito once said: “It’s the most challenging job you’ll ever love.” I served on Guild trial boards, I weighed in on workplace conditions, and I got a glimpse, via the executive board, of how studios not named Walt Disney Productions actually operated. (Until I was on the board, I worked in a pretty cloistered environment inside the Mouse House and didn’t really understand a lot of workplace issues).

Today, your Guild’s executive board formulates Guild policy, helps negotiate contracts, weighs in on grievances against studios, and (in short) has a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in a part of the entertainment industry that has never been larger, more profitable, or more influential than right now.

So what do the jobs of Guild officers and board members entail?
If you’re Business Representative, you’re a full-time, paid employee of the Guild. You run the Guild office and supervise Guild staff. You pretty much steer the Animation Guild (with the Guild President as your co-captain) and work with the board to make policy. You file grievances on behalf of members and chair negotiations with the studios. You serve as a member of the Executive Board.

If you are the President, you collaborate with the Business Representative on Guild matters. You preside at membership and executive board meetings, you’re an ex officio member of all TAG committees.

Executive Board Members have general supervision of the affairs of the guild. They decide on matters referred to them by the Business Representative or the membership, and investigate complaints brought to them by the membership or the Business Representative.

(Section Seven of the Animation Guild’s Constitution -- pages 14 through 23 -- explains all these positions -- and others -- in greater detail, but the above gives you the broad brush strokes.)

The Animation Guild has never been larger, more robust, or more prosperous than it is right now. Members in their fifties and sixties have been running TAG for years; now is the time for younger members to step up and mold the Animation Guild into the organization they want it to be.


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