Friday, June 01, 2012


Even though there is a real IA visual effects union effort starting up many have decided to continue to sit on the sidelines. They are waiting for the perfect solution for the visual effects industry. They are waiting for a global organization that can guarantee paid hours (including overtime), limit overtime, provide good working conditions, healthcare, end underbidding and provide solutions to other problems that the industry faces (including elimination of tax incentives for some). It's to be a hydrid of a union (but not really) and a trade association (but not really). They want something that all workers and companies immediately sign up for. Some don't want to pay dues so it must be free. 

Unfortunately for those people, it will be a very long wait. No such organization exists and it can't materialize out of thin air. The VFX foundation was started with some of those goals but I'm not sure where it is now. To start up any large organization takes a lot of effort, time and money. To try to do something that meets all the legal requirements in all countries is a monumental task. Even for companies such as Apple they have to have special warranties and other adjustments depending on the country. In the U.S. there are specific laws regarding unions, non-profits and various types of businesses. There's differences even at the state level. And similar issues exist in other countries with specific regulations even in different regions of the same company.

Those of us who work in this industry should be happy when there are improvements to the artistry, technology and business of visual effects no matter where it occurs. If a group of workers and companies in the world make improvements for themselves without causing a reduction elsewhere, good for them. Improvements anywhere will hopefully become a guide and inspiration for others in the global view. 

One does not scale a mountain in one leap, but by taking steps. Rather than waiting endlessly for the ultimate solution (which won't occur), the best approach would be to take the small steps that are possible now. The IA effort isn't worldwide but if it did occur in the U.S. it would likely cause an indirect benefit to other workers who wish to be paid fairly for all the hours they work. The union movement in U.S. and elsewhere elevated many of the working conditions even for non-union workers. (40 hr work, weekends off, vacation, etc) I suspect the same thing would happen in this case.

I urge visual effects workers to do some research, spread the word and discuss with your coworkers. What are the problems you're facing and what are -you- going to do about them? What is the solution? Rather than sit by the sidelines or heckling, how about providing a solution or lending a hand?

There is a meeting June 3 for those in the Los Angeles area. For more info on the meeting or the IA effort: The IA Visual Effects Website

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