Saturday, July 7, 2018

Animation Militancy

... which comes from getting abused over multiple years.

SAG-AFTRA leaders are seeking a strike authorization from members working in TV animation with a July 18 deadline to respond.

The key issue for the union is the refusal of employers to provide scale wages or residuals in the fastest-growing area of animated performer’s work — animated programs made for subscription-based streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. ...

How did these lesser terms get started? In the usual way: internet-delivered content was in its infancy, the Writers Guild of America and Directors Guild negotiated to get "New Media" (i.e., content via the world wide web) included under their jurisdictions, and SAG-AFTRA and the IATSE quickly followed.

The first three-year cycle of contract terms for "New Media"/"Subscription Video On Demand" (2008-2011) were bad. (The technical word would be "shitty".) But everybody swallowed the package, negotiating a "sunset clause" that insured the "New Media" language would lapse after three years. This way unions and guilds wouldn't be saddled with the same rancid deal For. Ever.

Over the next couple of contract cycles the terms for New Media got slowly better, but here in 2018 the patience of labor is wearing thin. Internet content is now a roaring business, with Netflix a dominant player that makes millions. (In a recent survey, Netflix outstripped cable and broadcast delivery; it ain't "small" and "experimental" any longer.)

Thus, it's understandable that SAG-AFTRA animation voice actors are being asked to authorize a strike to give their guild more leverage in negotiating better terms. Why the hell not? It's high freaking time*.

* A wee bit of history: Three years ago, the Animation Guild argued with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that "New Media" terms and rates in TAG's contract weren't remotely close to reality, that budget levels used in the agreement mirrored live-action, which were far higher than equivalent animation budgets. And that this insured that triggers for higher wages would never be met because contractual budget levels in the New Media clause would never be hit.

The AMPTP was unsympathetic, pointing out that SAG-AFTRA's animation voice actors accepted the live-action budget tiers, and that TAG would have to do likewise.

With its leverage reduced, TAG ultimately accepted the SAG-AFTRA package. This year, however, SAG-AFTRA's animation voice actors have refused to agree to sub-par terms and threaten to strike ... which presents the Animation Guild with the opportunity to get a better deal in its own collective bargaining agreement.

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