Thursday, May 31, 2012

10 Lies Employers Tell VFX Artists

Here’s a list of 10 lies employers tell vfx artists to keep them from forming a union. What’s most troubling is when artists buy into these arguments themselves. Check this list to see how many you’ve been told.  

  1. We’re Like Family HereDon’t let some 3rd party outsiders come in and ruin our cozy relationship. 
I know… don’t barf! 

The truth is… film production companies see vfx artists as red-headed step-children. Until you get represented you’ll always be negotiating from a position of weakness. There’s strength in numbers.  

  1. We’ll Close Our Doors! – The day you vote for a union we’ll be out of business. 
The truth is… it’s illegal to threaten to close down the company because the workers decided to have a union represent them.

  1. Your Job Will Be Shipped Overseas – We’ll ship all your jobs to a foreign country where workers don’t complain and they don’t have unions. 
The truth is… no one can do the job better than you can. You’re an artist! There are huge challenges for businesses in offshoring; illiteracy rates, language proficiency, cultural differences, political pressure, data security, etc. Many of the companies that tried it in the past have found it just doesn’t work. If studios want to be really efficient they need to encourage increased contact between vfx artists and directors not less.  

  1. You Will Be Negotiating From Zero – You will lose your present wage and benefits and start at nothing! Cause that’s how we roll. 
The truth is… when you negotiate a first contract the starting point will be the wages and benefits you currently receive and go up from there.  

  1. Give Us a Second Chance We’ll Change – We didn’t mean it. We thought you were satisfied making peanuts. If only we knew. Good thing you brought this to our attention.  Things are going to start to change around here real soon. Well not that soon, but eventually. Just wait. You’ll see. 
The truth is… nothing is going to change until vfx artists join together and demand improvements in wages and working conditions.  

  1. You Will Be Forced to Strike – We will replace you permanently when the union forces you to go on strike. 
The truth is... you and your coworkers will decide what actions to take to secure a contract. If the majority of workers don’t want to strike there will be no strike.  

  1. We Will Never Sign a Union Contract! – Even if you and your coworkers vote for a union we will stall throughout the whole bargaining process never reaching agreement. 
The truth is... both parties are required by law to bargain in good-faith and there are stiff penalties for undermining the process. They will sign.  

  1. You Get Nothing for Your Dues – The union only wants your money. They don’t care about you. They want to charge you huge sums of money to sponsor their lavish lifestyles.  
The truth is... the value in increased wages, fringe benefits and working conditions will far exceed any costs to you in the form of union dues.  You won’t pay any dues until after a first contract is secured. Organized labor has championed many of the improvements working people enjoy today such as the 40 hour work week, paid holidays, overtime pay, medical coverage, safety laws, etc. 

  1. The Union Will Mean Violence and Intimidation – You’re safe now but when the worker’s vote for a union there will be an increase in vandalism, violence and intimidation.      
The truth is... Most workers feel intimidated asking the boss for a raise. The purpose of collective bargaining is to be able to sit at the table as equals and arrive at an agreement in a calm manner. This is the opposite of violence.   

  1. We’ll Give You Special Treatment – We like you. You’re not like the others. You’ve got a bright future here. Once this union thing is resolved we’re going to make you a supervisor. Don’t mention this to anybody ok?  
          The truth is... you are not the only one being told this. Employers make lots of empty               promises. That’s why it’s so important for you and your coworkers to bargain collectively.
It’s in your best interest to have everything spelled out in a written contract.


  1. This is very pertinent info as there is a movement toward unionization in VFX currently both in the U.S. and the U.K. I think Canada, as well. You should share this with Scott Ross, I'd be interested to hear his perspective on this...