Saturday, August 21, 2010

Militant Nik

As was pointed out below in "The (not so) Perfect Storm" negotiators from the DGA and other unions will shortly be sitting down with studio management to hammer out new Collective Bargaining Agreements, and much of their focus will be on pension and health benefits.

This is hardly a big surprise given the state of movie and television land, and Directors Guild negotiator Gil Cates writes:

... [W]e are little more than a month away from the kickoff of negotiations season for contracts expiring in 2011. ... Part of our [negotiations] process is to develop the best and most thorough research and forecasts on the state of all aspects of the entertainment business available anywhere in the industry. ... We’ve spent millions of dollars and a great deal of time and effort making sure that we know at least as much as anybody sitting across from us at that negotiations table. ...

While the Guild’s negotiations priorities are still being refined, I think it’s safe to say that ensuring the security of our health and pension plans will definitely be a top priority in our negotiations with the AMPTP. ...

Which prompted the Nikkster to write:

It looks increasingly like the Hollywood guilds are giving up before they even go into this 2010/2011 round of negotiations with the movie studios and TV networks. This message by 4-time Basic Agreement/FLTTA Negotiations Chair Gil Cates to 14,000 Directors Guild members talks about focusing on health and pension plans and doesn't even mention demanding more New Media money from the AMPTP. This, despite the fact that Big Media is alive and well and even flourishing ...

What's also interesting about Cates' statement is that this notorious hater of the Writers Guild cozies up to the new SAG-AFTRA cooperation. So it's clear what's going to happen during this next round of negotiations: SAG-AFTRA make a quick and easy contract full of compromises and few gains. The DGA soon follows. Which leaves the WGA on its own

The one thing you can say about Nikke Finke: When negotiation time comes around, she is as constant as the rising sun. The Writers Guild is manly, strong and principled, and the Directors Guild is wimpish. (And the IATSE? It's little more than a cackling villain, twirling its greasy moustache.)

The Nikkster, you see, is unencumbered by the dual realities of serving a membership that's been hammered by a long recession and so is less pugnacious, and jousting with multi-national conglomerates disinclined to share new revenue streams with Hollywood labor unions.

Added to which, everyone down in the arena (as Nikke sits up in the stands munching buttered popcorn and complaining how weak-kneed the players are) is aware of the current fragility of the pension and health plans.

But it's been this way for years. The Nikkster is always delighted to fight to the last drop of somebody else's blood. She reminds me of political pundits like William Kristol who sit in their New York offices agitating for bigger and more numerous wars, urging the boys and girls in uniform to fight on to greater glory, secure in the knowledge that it won't be them carrying that M-16, wearing sixty pounds of equipment in the heat of a Middle Eastern desert, and getting shot in the face.

Militant Nik!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The Nikkster, you see, is unencumbered by the dual realities of serving a membership that's been hammered by a long recession and so is less pugnacious, and jousting with multi-national conglomerates disinclined to share new revenue streams with Hollywood labor unions."

Hey Steve, look in a mirror. I think you must be the professor in that field.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous douchbag, look in the mirror and realize that your trollish comments are directed at someone who actually DOES go to bat for working animators, and who actually does have skin in this game.

Oh, wait, you're not actually a member of this union, are you? You're just another silly internet troll. Sorry, didn't mean to rile you. Go back to sleep now.

halfcuban said...

I have to disagree with this post, though I am not a union member of the Guild (but rather a member of a state employee union). I don't understand how a union rep who believes that members should take a no-pay no-work stand against management somehow believes that taking that same effective stance (in the form of a strike IF the reasonable wage minimums are not assured) is a bad idea when it comes to contract negotiation.


This seem especially true in regards to the Guilds contract negotiations; saying that health and pension are the dominant issues without talking about wages reminds me of used car salesman who insist on talking to you about lowering interest rates without talking about lowering the over-all price of the car. Its a smokescreen to cover up the fact that you are being HAD.

This is especially true because nothing has a greater impact on health and retirement than raw wages. While I am unsure of how the Guild retirement plans are structured, if they are structured like many other defined benefit plans, where the amount of wages put in defines the benefit at the end, then there can be no other stronger way to bolster retirement than to raise the base salary AND the employer participation in the plan. While healthcare plans for retirees and other are not really structured like this, it is hard to imagine base wage increases not benefiting members ability to afford healthcare.

Its not an either or proposition between bolstering employee contributions and base salaries. But base salaries should always be the crux of any contract negotiation since they, by definition, increase the propserity of members regardless of the health of either plan and are so often tied to the benefits that members will receive or be eligible for at the end of their working lives. Ceding that territory to a management that does not award brownie points for loyalty is absurd, and will set you up on the wrong footing when it comes to negotiations.

Anonymous said...

re: "She reminds me of political pundits like William Kristol who sit in their New York offices agitating for bigger and more numerous wars..."


yup, can't say enough bad things about warmongering political pundits, like these guys:

"In times of danger, Americans put aside partisanship and unite in the defense of our country. That is why, as Democrats, we supported the Bush administration's toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. We also backed the goal of ousting Saddam Hussein's malignant regime in Iraq, because the previous policy of containment was failing, because Saddam posed a grave danger to America as well as his own brutalized people, and because his blatant defiance of more than a decade's worth of United Nations Security Council resolutions was undermining both collective security and international law. We believed then, and we believe now, that this threat was less imminent than the administration claimed and that the United States should have done much more to win international backing and better prepare for post-war reconstruction. Nonetheless, we are convinced that the Iraqi people, the region and the world are better off now that this barbaric dictator is gone."

http://www.ppionline.org/ppi_ci.cfm?knlgAreaID=124&subsecID=158&contentID=252144


see also "Liberal Hawk":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Hawk

and "Liberal Internationalism":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_internationalism

Anonymous said...

Halfcuban, maybe the labor leaders you're attacking ARE ceding the wage battle, or perhaps they know things you don't. The minimum wage gains for the last dozen years or so on the Hollywood contracts has consistently been 2-3%. The studios have shown they'd destroy themselves before they give more, and the unions have been pretty adamant about not taking less. So if, going in, you know in these economic times your wage bumps are going to be in that narrow range, and you know your membership has a hard time parsing out the effects (to themselves) of what sound like innocuous changes to the health plan, then maybe it serves the membership to put the focus where the real battle is going to be.

On the other hand, our labor leaders could do what some leaders have done in other unions, and preach that the sky is the limit in every negotiation, and that we lose if we don't get everything we want. Sometimes negotiations ARE about 'either/or' choices. Sometimes when your facing those choices from the car salesman, it really is a seller's market.

Anonymous said...

"Hey anonymous douchbag, look in the mirror and realize that your trollish comments are directed at someone who actually DOES go to bat for working animators, and who actually does have skin in this game.

Oh, wait, you're not actually a member of this union, are you? You're just another silly internet troll. Sorry, didn't mean to rile you. Go back to sleep now."

Really, been in the union for 20 years and watched this phony stroll around like he's god and belittle the members.

And it's douchebag not douchbag. Learn to spell Steve.

Steve Kaplan said...

Anon 9:26am -

Member for twenty years and watched Steve Hulett "stroll around" and "belittle members"?

I've been here almost three months now, and have seen Steve go the distance daily for members .. even the ones who practically begged to be fed to the dogs.

You have something to say about his opinion on Ms. Finke or the upcoming negotiations, type away. You want to throw personal barbs, scribe me an email and tell me why we should believe you're a union member and how Steve stepped on your tail. Other than that, you're just someone who wants to spit venom .. which is akin to a troll.

skaplan@animationguild.org

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