Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Organizing Game

This has been percolating along for awhile, but the media and internet are now getting wind of it.

An effort to organize the artists at Burbank, California-based Stoopid Buddy Stoodios with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union has gained momentum in recent weeks, according to a source inside the studio. ...

[A] union organizer within the studio [says] that the low wages for lower-level staff causes significant turnover, with fed-up staffers often leaving the studio. The studio frequently replaces departing staff with younger, inexperienced artists fresh out of art school, who subsequently require hours of training to get up to speed. The inexperienced hires, who are often just happy to have a job at the studio, frequently have little idea of their true value to the studio and have little negotiating experience. As a result, wages are lowered, and the work schedule suffers. ...

Studio management ... has not taken kindly to organizing efforts. They recently circulated to staff an eight-page letter purporting to answer union arguments about the benefits of unionizing. The letter, which begins by referring to “our Stoopid Family” and proceeds to present arguments against unionization, may have done more to harm to the studio’s position than to help, and many employees saw it as a clumsy effort by studio management to forestall the unionizing effort. ...

The scenario now unfolding is as old as unions, labor contracts, and aggrieved employees walking up and down sidewalks with picket signs.

How it starts is, a company pays its people below industry norms and offers sub-par health insurance. Then the employees get ticked off and begin to sign union representation cards, talk among themselves. and go to (gasp!) union organizing meetings.

At which point the company catches wise to the mutiny down in the ranks. And starts to assert that they're "a family" with a special atmosphere that they don't want to muck up by having some guild or union sticking its nose in. Meetings are held about what a really lousy idea it would be to "go union" (even though some of the owners are in unions themselves).

We are now in the phase where the company is working to tamp down the fires of discontent and talk employees out of better wages and health insurance. We'll see where this goes.


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