Tuesday, March 30, 2010

VFX Guild vs Union

The VFX town hall brought up the idea of a Union or Guild for VFX. Neither is a horrible idea, but in practice it's not always the best idea.

First no union until the companies get their act together, with a trade organization or something. Unions will only hurt. ILM stopped being a union shop not too long ago. I was/am still in the ILM and DreamWorks union IATSE.
I like the idea of a guild b/c it can be much less invasive and more like VES, but with a different goal. Guild could enforce legal practices, like no unpaid OT. Set some standards for artists, and smaller things to make some people lives better, who can't seem to make it better themselves... well that would be the idea anyway. In practice it'd probably be some b/c hassle that made it harder for new artists (like actors) to start working. 

A union to me... get read for a negative review... Union to me feels like the charge a lot of extra$ to the company like pensions that are complete BS, and a lot of artist never see that money. They get crappy health-care, charge you $3k or more to join, and feel like they do nothing. Think about who runs a union, full time union people. Lame. For every full time employee that's the union/the artists who pays for them. Are they worth it? That's money that could be in your salary but its not. "Oh but unions get us better wages" No they don't. You still negotiate your rate, but now there is less play for the company b/c they already have and extra $15k/year on top of everything for union crap, most of which you will never see. They will make sure you get holiday and vacation days (or get paid extra for not), which is nice for sure. But a guild could do that too. 

Another thing, I don't think the most Sr artist want or need the union/guild. The mid and jr level need it, b/c its easier for them to be taken advantage of. Basically I'm skeptical, and think artist should manage themselves, but that's another blog post.

Lastly a union will never happen, so its not really worth talking about. It only takes a few big companies to say we're a non-union shop. We don't hire union people, during hard times, and you'll see people fleeing the union in droves just like the editors union now. Guild can start out soft and build in power and influence... but the moment it becomes a negative on the resume, is the moment it's hurting not helping.