Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Craft Meeting #4 -- CG Animator/Modelers, Technical Directors, and Compositors

On Tuesday night, the fourth Animation Guild Craft Meeting took place in the Guild's meeting hall at 1105 N. Hollywood Way. Notes of the proceedings:

Review of First Year of 839 Contract: There was a discussion of collective bargaining agreement, how Tech Directors and CG animators are being impacted. At the feature studios (Disney and DreamWorks) overtime is being paid and there have been no major complaints. Production schedules are compressed, but opinions are divided on the negative impacts. Some people like the extra overtime pay; others would prefer more weekends and evenings spent with family. At tv animation studios – principally DreamWorks Animation TV -- more work is being piled onto leads and supervisors, with more job stress.

For CG Classifications, there are no job descriptions and no clear parameters about what the jobs entail. This is a problem. Companies can reconfigure and redefine what a CG lead is, what a supervisor is, at a moment’s notice. There needs to be some controlling language in the CBA. Business Representative described the history of CG classifications getting into the contract in the mid-90s, when non-Guild tech directors working on “Dinosaur” at Disney agitated to be covered by the contract and to have pay rates track contract rates. At that time, numbered classifications were introduced.

New Media: Studios are hiring artists and tech directors at below contract minimums (this is happening at IA locals covering live-action as well), but studios ARE paying the 6% Individual Account Plan pension percentage at the contractual minimum rate, not the actual rate of pay. The New Media Sideletter (Sideletter N – pp. 99-113 of 839 CBA) enables studios to negotiate freely below minimum rates. The budgetary tiers that would mean 85% of minimums would have to be paid reflect live-action budgets, and animation budgets are way lower so “budget tiers” in the Sideletter are never reached. This was an issue at the last negotiation, will be an issue at next IA and TAG negotiation in 2018.

Simplifying Contract classifications: There was discussion of simplifying contract categories, keeping categories broad-based and simple and having fewer classifications and categories (Senior artist; jumior artist, apprentice artists, trainee). Some CG artists wanted definitions and more specific names in classifications. The Business Representative said that studios had resisted defining classifications in the past, that it might be more doable to get descriptive names in contract than definitions.

There is also an additional concern at some jobs about the combination of different job classifications into one; some people have reported doing multiple jobs in the same deadline, whereas before they only had one. The issue there is that people are taking those jobs and not fighting against the job compressions.

Wage Suppression Lawsuit: Individuals have gotten letters regarding the Wage Suppression class-action lawsuit involving Blue Sky Studios, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation (etc). A number of attendees had received letters. Business Representative said that the Guild is not directly involved, although it held a meeting with one of the lawsuit attorneys and referred people to his law firm early in the process. Business Representative said he was subpoenaed for a depoition and that documents were also subpoenaed. It was noted that Blue Sky Studios and Sony Pictures Animation have reached settlements on the suit, but Disney, DreamWOrks and Pixar have not settled.

Live-Streaming: Some artists thought that live-srtreaming was a viable way to involve members who could never get to General Membrship Meetings; others though meeting conversations need to stay in the meeting room. There was a worry that the streaming of meetings would keep people from speaking up.

CG Classes at Guild: There was a discussion of reconfiguring the computer lab so that in-house classes could be held. Right now, CG classes are held off-site under the Contract Servicies Administration Trust Fund.

Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m. ...

What comes through at craft meetings to date?

A) Concern about lower wage rates of New Media work. Animation budgets for Subscription Video on Demand is far below live-action, yet the "budget tiers in Sideletter N (pp. 99-113 of the CBA)

B) Interest in sharing work and wage information. Interest in building better employee in various studio departments.

C) Desire to begin crafting possible proposals for 2018 contract negotiations.


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