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Union question

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Union question

I've asked a couple of people about the differance in union and non-union animators, but I never get a clear answer. I would appreciate any info I can get.

In Hollywood IATSE Local 839 is the animator's union. It covers animators, storyboard artists, layout, production artists and writers. Many writers are currently trying to get out of IATSE in the WGA. The Writer's Guild can secure better benefits, such as residuals which the Union has never ever secured for its members (unlike the WGA, or the Screen Actor's Guild, eg.).

I'm not sure how it works in Los Angeles, because in New York there is no Union. It was busted around 1990 after scraping through the '80s when a number of shops didn't sign union contracts and it was absorbed into another Union which didn't really understand its members needs. This is anecdotal information from my colleagues, one of whom was the Treasurer for many years.

Back then -in New York- a union animator could only work for a union shop. If they worked at a non-union shop they could lose their card. Union signataries could only hire union artists. Like SAG it was a closed union, which meant you had to get hired on a union job to get into the union.

Amongst the benefits were a standard payscale and when the system functioned properly, notification of available jobs. There was a pension, of course, but it my understanding that this was seriously devalued in New York after sucessive takeovers by other guilds.

For the employer, the benefits included an imprimatur on artists. Hiring Union artists was a guarantee of a certain level of quality and professionalism.

As I said, I'm not sure how this works in LA. The studios are generally bigger and more regimented, so the Union structure makes a lot of sense. When films are made by assembly line, the Union can provide a certain defense for an artist against the factory owner.

This is all second-hand knowledge from talking with folks, if anyone has contradictory information let's have it.