WGA (writers') Strike - where shows stand - Page 6 - AVS Forum
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post #151 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by doogiehowser View Post

Wait a second. Are you saying if I want to work for ABC I would be forced to join a union or they would not hire me? That is such BS! I should be free to work wherever I want without being forced into a union.

Head to a "right to work" state and wait for the jobs to follow - the jobs are migrating by the thousands every year.

Right to work states
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post #152 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by CPanther95 View Post

Head to a "right to work" state and wait for the jobs to follow - the jobs are migrating by the thousands every year.

And then migrating to India, or China, or Indonesia, or........ Collective bargaining is a bulwark against abuse by the executive class. And human nature being what it is, the powerful will always seek to marginalize the weak any way they can. If not for unions and the stuggles they endured earlier in this century, the middle class in this country would be far smaller and weaker than it currently is. The stagnation of the middle class and the soaring fortunes of the top 1% in fact mirror the decline in union participation in this country. And those that are getting vastly richer and more powerful have somehow managed to convince everybody else who's struggling that it's all such a swell development. It's really quite remarkable.
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post #153 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

And then migrating to India, or China, or Indonesia, or........ Collective bargaining is a bulwark against abuse by the executive class. And human nature being what it is, the powerful will always seek to marginalize the weak any way they can. If not for unions and the stuggles they endured earlier in this century, the middle class in this country would be far smaller and weaker than it currently is. The stagnation of the middle class and the soaring fortunes of the top 1% in fact mirror the decline in union participation in this country. And those that are getting vastly richer and more powerful have somehow managed to convince everybody else who's struggling that it's all such a swell development. It's really quite remarkable.

It's an interesting debate...I'm pro-Union in general, but in most cases government regulation and legislation has removed the original reasons for Unions being created in the first place.

Back when Unions were first created there was no OSHA, Equal Opportunity Empoyment legislation, Minimum Wage, Disability Pay, etc.

We're talking about laborers that were worked 14-18 hours a day for pennies and if they were permanently disabled/hurt on the job, too bad...."you're fired! You have a 12 year old son, right? He can have your job!"

I can absolutely understand why they had to Unionize and 'fight the power' to get a fair wage, benefits, and a right to a safe workplace.

But those reasons no longer exist as government has legislated/regulated them. Now it's about slicing up the pie and I don't always agree with that.

In the case of the writers strike no one is being exploited illegally. So it's hard to feel too much empathy for them on those grounds. On the other hand, the other poster was right too...the studios will never willingly give up a financial advantage unless they are forced to, and they only way to force their hand is to withhold their collective writing talents until they do. We'll see how it plays out.

I'm no expert....so your mileage may vary
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post #154 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Iteki View Post

It's an interesting debate...I'm pro-Union in general, but in most cases government regulation and legislation has removed the original reasons for Unions being created in the first place.

Back when Unions were first created there was no OSHA, Equal Opportunity Empoyment legislation, Minimum Wage, Disability Pay, etc.

We're talking about laborers that were worked 14-18 hours a day for pennies and if they were permanently disabled/hurt on the job, too bad...."you're fired! You have a 12 year old son, right? He can have your job!"

I can absolutely understand why they had to Unionize and 'fight the power' to get a fair wage, benefits, and a right to a safe workplace.

But those reasons no longer exist as government has legislated/regulated them. Now it's about slicing up the pie and I don't always agree with that.

In the case of the writers strike no one is being exploited illegally. So it's hard to feel too much empathy for them on those grounds. On the other hand, the other poster was right too...the studios will never willingly give up a financial advantage unless they are forced to, and they only way to force their hand it to withhold their collective writing talents until they do. We'll see how it plays out.

I fully agree with everything you said here.

Unions have a place, but it seems that place is shifting away from preventing exploitation and moving toward getting a bigger piece of the pie.

I can't fault people for wanting more for themselves, but striking over not getting a higher salary doesn't help generate good will with your employer. Putting union power behind avoiding having your job given to "Steve" in India is one thing; shutting down the system over residuals is another.

On the other hand, the studios could have taken more proactive action in the first place to protect themselves if they were going to take such a hard line. It's not like they didn't know the writers' contracts were going to be coming up for renewal. As a result, they have no right to cry poor when the scripts run out. Hopefully, they'll be better prepaired later next year when the actors will undoubtebly head out onto the picket lines so this season isn't a complete washout.
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post #155 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 07:44 AM
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The problem with the current union setup is that they seek to protect the same situations which are now protected by law. The result is overwhelmingly negative.

There are some writers that deserve far more than they currently receive. There are some writers that deserve far less than they currently receive. Under the union agreement, all are equal. Collective bargaining elevates the substandard and punishes the truly talented. This has been the case for years.

If the industry could pay the three least talented writers at the table what they were worth, it could afford to pay the top two what they deserved.

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post #156 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by CPanther95 View Post

Head to a "right to work" state and wait for the jobs to follow - the jobs are migrating by the thousands every year.

Right to work states

Except, a union operation is limited in how much they can shift away from union to non-union. Union contracts often include measures to prevent "union busting". Besides, anyone who really thinks the big studios and networks will move out of NY, Chicago or the LA area is fooling themselves. At this point, they're entrenched where they are. Even a huge network like ESPN that grew up in rural Connecticut can't stay completely out of NY and LA.
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post #157 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by CPanther95 View Post

Head to a "right to work" state and wait for the jobs to follow - the jobs are migrating by the thousands every year.

Right to work states

I'm also in NC and you're right. Some states have laws protecting employees from being forced to unionize. Look at the number of shows and movies produced outside of California. Many have been in Canada, NC and other locations for years now because of this.

Keep in mind that higher union salaries are required in order to pay union dues. Often not being in a union means more take-home pay.

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post #158 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

Except, a union operation is limited in how much they can shift away from union to non-union. Union contracts often include measures to prevent "union busting". Besides, anyone who really thinks the big studios and networks will move out of NY, Chicago or the LA area is fooling themselves. At this point, they're entrenched where they are. Even a huge network like ESPN that grew up in rural Connecticut can't stay completely out of NY and LA.

Dawson's Creek had a fairly successful run being shot in NC.

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post #159 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by agregjones View Post

The problem with the current union setup is that they seek to protect the same situations which are now protected by law. The result is overwhelmingly negative.

There are some writers that deserve far more than they currently receive. There are some writers that deserve far less than they currently receive. Under the union agreement, all are equal. Collective bargaining elevates the substandard and punishes the truly talented. This has been the case for years.

If the industry could pay the three least talented writers at the table what they were worth, it could afford to pay the top two what they deserved.

Absolutely.

Of course, the opposite side is, in a non-union operation, the glory tends to go to a select few while others that deserve more than they get often get thrown into the pit with those that deserve less because the pie is only so big. As a result, you end up with four levels:

1) The cream of the crop: people who are the tops at what they do and have been rewarded for it. These people not only do excellent work, but know how to promote the work they do to those who rate their performance.

2) People who have somehow convinced their superiors that they are the tops at what they do (but seldom are) and have been rewarded for it. These folks often spend more time selling themselves than actually doing their work. If you work with this guy, you should become his best friend since he'll be your supervisor at some point - especially if you are from group 3 below:

3) People who are at the tops of what they do (are darned close to it), but go about doing it without the "sell job" that is often required when their boss has no idea what they do: as a result, they work just as hard as those who get the rewards, but never see any themselves. These are usually the ones that quietly and reliably churn out quality work, but no one ever appreciates until they've moved on to another job in order to get a raise.

4) People who are average or below that aren't able to spin well enough to get the rewards given to group 2. These folks often don't put any more effort into selling themselves than they do their work.
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post #160 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 08:30 AM
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My point is that collective bargaining negates even the opportunity to pay based on merit. The alternative may not end in fair pay, but at least it's a possibility.

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post #161 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 08:40 AM
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My point is that collective bargaining negates even the opportunity to pay based on merit.

..and I agreed with you. I was just pointing out that neither system is perfect.
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post #162 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 08:54 AM
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..and I agreed with you. I was just pointing out that neither system is perfect.

*nods*

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post #163 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 09:04 AM
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Back in college I was pretty much anti-union. But the last couple decades have shown increased control of our government by the large corporations and a decrease in the power of laws protecting the consumer and the average guy against whatever big business wants. So now I support the unions, the strike, and an increased need for collective bargaining. They aren't perfect but still are probably needed.

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post #164 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 09:36 AM
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http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,2016...ow+gone%3F

Here is Entertainment Weekly's take on the original question of the status of shows. I'm assuming that they'll keep it up to date, and who knows how accurate it is? For example, they show 7 episodes left of Family Guy.

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post #165 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

the CEO of the company mommy worked for outsourced her job to India and fired her because she didn't have a union to collectively bargain on her behalf.

You think unions protect from outsourcing? Ask some textile workers how that worked out for them. Or ask a Hollywood grip or electrician how his union is protecting him from work moving to Australia, Canada, or even just New Mexico.

I firmly believe that the reason so much visual effects work is still done in California is because that segment of the industry isn't unionized. Employees decide for themselves what rate they are willing to work for to keep their job security, and find their own balance. When work is slow, I can go to my employer and work out a deal to reduce my work week or my overall salary to keep my job and my health insurance while the company isn't as busy, then return to my old deal when work picks up. Being flexible in hard times earns a lot of loyalty from an employer and an increase in benefits in the long run. That would be impossible in a union environment.

Also, there's also no union hierarchy keeping someone from rising as high as their talent allows. In an industry as easy to outsource to India and China as computer graphics, its the flexibility of non-union employment that is keeping jobs in the US and creating a fantastic talent pool.
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post #166 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by trbarry View Post

Back in college I was pretty much anti-union. But the last couple decades have shown increased control of our government by the large corporations and a decrease in the power of laws protecting the consumer and the average guy against whatever big business wants. So now I support the unions, the strike, and an increased need for collective bargaining. They aren't perfect but still are probably needed.

At least to my view, big unions fall into the same category as big government and big business. I don't think any of them care in the least about the small guy.
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post #167 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 10:43 AM
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You think unions protect from outsourcing? Ask some textile workers how that worked out for them. Or ask a Hollywood grip or electrician how his union is protecting him from work moving to Australia, Canada, or even just New Mexico.

Why, you're right! Without unions, the Mill owners could demand that workers go back to the conditions that prevailed when American manufacturing ruled the world: 16 hour sweatshop workdays slaving for 6 cents an hour! Just like today in China and all over southeast Asia!! Why, who wouldn't want to cave in to that kind of ultimatum so they could keep those wonderful jobs...? Besides, the govenment keeps telling us how many jobs have been created in this "booming" economy. Unfortunately, here in rural North Carolina where textiles and furniture manufacturing were once king, they mostly require you to memorize the phrase "You want fries with that?"
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post #168 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

So would you also say that someone shouldn't do something to make mining safer with all the recent accidents that have occurred? I'm mean, if those folks choose to work in a particular environment, oh well...

I know that's an extreme comparison, but (while I'm not placed in any danger by them), if my career and livelihood can potentially be hurt by a union that I'm not a part of going on strike, that's bogus. TV jobs are tough to get. You can't just go to the next studio down the block and look for a sign in the window that says "help wanted".

However, I will agree with your first sentence. Some inion reps and even whole unions are better than others. Personally, felt dirty and used after once being a member of IATSE.

Yes, that is an extreme example. And in reality, it's probably the unions that have forced the workplace to become a safer environment.

My comment is directed at those who have chosen to work in a particular industry where unions are prevalent, they should know going in that their fate/source of income, is directly related to how/what those unions may do, in this case, a union has struck resulting in those folks having a loss of income. If that's something they are not willing to deal with, they should try a different industry. Sounds harsh, but it is reality.
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post #169 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by agregjones View Post

My point is that collective bargaining negates even the opportunity to pay based on merit. The alternative may not end in fair pay, but at least it's a possibility.

It depends on how you define "merit". CBAs, at least the ones I've seen, define "merit" in the agreement so all employees know how much their employer is paying them and why. "Merit" to an employer can mean how much they have to pay the employee to keep him or her working there. "Merit" to an employee can mean things that are not necessarily worth anything to the employer like how long they've worked there. These definitions are usually in conflict. Ideally CBAs will compromise both sides' definition of "merit" so both sides will play by the same rules.

If anyone wants to see the most depressing documentary on a strike ever made, rent American Dream. It showed how a union is only as good as the people who run it and a poorly-planned strike can be more tragic than no strike at all. The film seemed to side with the employees by showing how they suffered during the strike, but they had been earning pretty good wages before and the strike was organized so stupidly and arrogantly, I lost empathy with them by the end.

NOW: my post on AVS Forum.
NEXT: someone else's post on AVS Forum.
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post #170 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 12:03 PM
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I grew up in Pittsburgh. The unions were part of what drove the steel mills out of town.

The Thorofare grocery store chain union went on strike, and that shut down that chain.

The Pittsburgh Press delivery truck drivers were making a ton of money and went on strike for more. The Press was sold to the Post-Gazette which shut down the Press. Most of the Press employees lost their jobs because of the greedy union.

Few people in the country work for unions, and the vast majority of us who aren't in a union aren't forced to work 16 hour days for slave wages, buy at the company store, etc.

Atlas just shrugged!
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post #171 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 12:11 PM
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While the specific issue surrounding the WGA strike relates to the writers receiving residuals on DVD and Internet distribution, sometimes I question the general practice of writers receiving residuals in the first place. While I realize that WGA contracts have long included provisions for residuals on TV, theater, and video distribution, I've often wondered why writers are receiving residuals in the first place. It seems to me that as a trade union, WGA pay scales are already in place to ensure fair and adequate compensation for a writer's services. Why, then, should a writer expect residual payments, considering that they're already receiving a fair wage by virtue of the established union pay scales? Again, I realize that residuals have long been a perk for WGA writers and that it's probably considered a part of the whole package, but think about this. Do camera operators earn residuals for their role in producing a movie or TV show? Do grips earn residuals for their involvement? Do makeup artists earn residuals for their work on a picture or a show? I don't think so. That said, why the big exception for the writers?

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post #172 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bpade View Post

Few people in the country work for unions, and the vast majority of us who aren't in a union aren't forced to work 16 hour days for slave wages, buy at the company store, etc.

I think the point is that thanks in part to the struggle of unions over the years, you don't have to. I grew up in the Appalachian coal fields, and those conditions were common at one time. People there still remember what it was like before unionization forced changes; it was a tough, short, brutal life. But people forget, and anti-union propaganda and strike-busting politicians eventually take their toll.
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post #173 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 12:17 PM
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Do grips earn residuals for their involvement? Do makeup artists earn residuals for their work on a picture or a show? I don't think so. That said, why the big exception for the writers?

Because writers are the real talent. You can train someone fairly quickly to be a technician, but the creative talent represented by a good writer is far more rare and not so easily replaced. The guy who sets the type and runs the presses doesn't get residuals on the sale of a book, but the author does, and with good reason. That's just one part of it, of course; there are other reasons why residuals are a necessary part of their compensation which have been recounted here and elsewhere. Read and learn.
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post #174 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Bars&Tone View Post

While the specific issue surrounding the WGA strike relates to the writers receiving residuals on DVD and Internet distribution, sometimes I question the general practice of writers receiving residuals in the first place. While I realize that WGA contracts have long included provisions for residuals on TV, theater, and video distribution, I've often wondered why writers are receiving residuals in the first place. It seems to me that as a trade union, WGA pay scales are already in place to ensure fair and adequate compensation for a writer's services. Why, then, should a writer expect residual payments, considering that they're already receiving a fair wage by virtue of the established union pay scales? Again, I realize that residuals have long been a perk for WGA writers and that it's probably considered a part of the whole package, but think about this. Do camera operators earn residuals for their role in producing a movie or TV show? Do grips earn residuals for their involvement? Do makeup artists earn residuals for their work on a picture or a show? I don't think so. That said, why the big exception for the writers?

True, but Studios don't turn to grips and say "Hey, have any new $$ making ideas?" Writers are the execs $$ printing press. It all starts with them...without them, there are no shows (aside from reality shows). It's a different skill set completely, and in my book, much more difficult and vital to the creative process.

I'm no expert....so your mileage may vary
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post #175 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

Because writers are the real talent. You can train someone fairly quickly to be a technician, but the creative talent represented by a good writer is far more rare and not so easily replaced. .

You continue to state the importance of the writers. I agree they are essential and they are not getting their fair share...But I will continue to ask about the other spokes in the wheel.

Do all Directors get residuals? They should.
How about editors? Sure it's a taught craft but it is an artistic talent to cut a film. Read When the Shooting Stops, by Ralph Rosenblum and see how his artistic talents were responsible for helping make some of the best films ever.

How about Cinematographers? Without Gordon Willis's skills on The Godfather, arguably one of the greatest pictures of all time, the final look would have suffered greatly.

These are just a couple of extreme examples of artists involved in a production. The writers are of course important but they are not the only real talent. As was discussed here earlier, it's a shame that there are so many no talent leaches that get producing credits setting themselves up for residuals.

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post #176 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 01:32 PM
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Ever see these stars without makeup or good lighting?

Where do you draw the line?
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post #177 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 01:39 PM
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Why, you're right! Without unions, the Mill owners could demand that workers go back to the conditions that prevailed when American manufacturing ruled the world: 16 hour sweatshop workdays slaving for 6 cents an hour.

There's no doubt about the importance of unions in the past, and how they secured workers safety and better pay. I would never argue to the contrary. But that is history. I don' think there is really any danger of going back to 16 hour days for 6 cents an hour. Do you really think that?

I am wondering if any union ever approached management and said "Look, we know there is pressure to shut down the factory and take the work overseas. What kind of a pay cut would it take to keep the jobs here? Let's find a way to work together to make that happen. We want to feed our kids and understand we have to share the hardship in this business climate". Maybe that happens all the time, and I'm just not aware of it. If it has happened, I'd love some examples so I can better educate myself. Unlike most people, I'm willing to reexamine my beliefs based on new information.

Here in Hollywood, I most see unions complaining about how the government should subsidize the industry with tax incentives to keep the work in Hollywood, while at the same time demanding more pay from studios. I never see the unions making their own incentive offers to be proactive about keeping the work here. They want citizens outside the industry to make the sacrifice via taxes, instead of making their own sacrifices. It seems odd to me.
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post #178 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 01:41 PM
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There's something wrong with an industry that strikes predictably each time their contract is up. This is not a strike in the old meaning, but a negotiation tactic.

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post #179 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by vfxproducer View Post

...see unions complaining about how the government should subsidize the industry with tax incentives to keep the work in Hollywood, while at the same time demanding more pay from studios. I never see the unions making their own incentive offers to be proactive about keeping the work here. They want citizens outside the industry to make the sacrifice via taxes, instead of making their own sacrifices. It seems odd to me.

This is true but one thing has nothing to do with the other. Yes, there should be an "in house cleaning" but the tax incentives are necessary for an equal playing ground. If our neighbors North are “stealing” our industry because of their tax incentives—we have to do the same.

Larry

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post #180 of 248 Old 11-16-2007, 01:53 PM
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You continue to state the importance of the writers. I agree they are essential and they are not getting their fair share...But I will continue to ask about the other spokes in the wheel.

Do all Directors get residuals? They should.

I believe the three guilds that get residuals are directors, actors, and writers. And again, there are good reasons why that's the case that have been enumerated here and elsewhere. You could think of it as "merit pay", since if there are no syndicated sales, there are no residuals. If there are, then the studios make additional monies over and beyond the original showings, and they need to share some of that additional income with the talent that made it possible. Makes sense to me.

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Originally Posted by vfxproducer View Post

I am wondering if any union ever approached management and said "Look, we know there is pressure to shut down the factory and take the work overseas. What kind of a pay cut would it take to keep the jobs here? Let's find a way to work together to make that happen. We want to feed our kids and understand we have to share the hardship in this business climate". Maybe that happens all the time, and I'm just not aware of it. If it has happened, I'd love some examples so I can better educate myself. Unlike most people, I'm willing to reexamine my beliefs based on new information.

Yeah, it does happen all the time. The auto industry unions and airline unions have negotiated a lot of give-backs in recent years, and those are always in the business news. I have friends in the airline industry and their contracts are a fraction of what they once were. Much of their pain is a result of corporate mismanagement, of course, but one seldom hears any criticism of those guys. The big manufacturing unions are well aware that the gravy train is over, and have adjusted their negotiations accordingly. It's quite common these days.
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