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Subject: Off Topic: Unions was: Work for Hire--clarification
From: Gunnar Swanson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 25 Aug 1998 10:12:27 -0700

text/plain (89 lines)

The Graphic Artists' Guild is not a union. Most of its members are
independent contractors and thus if they tried to act like a union in any
significant manner they would be guilty of restrain of trade.

My experience with union membership is limited. Long ago I worked as a
stagehand and carpenter out of a hiring hall. I found that the television
stations and set shops treated the workers better than the union did. There
were silly restrictions that allowed someone to work in a single job
category so if I was on an electrical call I could plug in a lamp on a set
but I couldn't carry it to another place. Until recently I was a member of
the faculty union at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The non-unionized
faculty at University of Minnesota Twin Cities always made more money than
we did. I figure the Twin Cities should have paid my union dues since the
practice was usually to wait until we'd negotiated a contract and then the
administration would give them a bit more.

OTOH, before there were such work restrictions for the entertainment
industry, the conditions were unsafe because they asked workers to manage
more than was possible. Until there was a union at UMD, faculty earned
-much- less than their Twin Cities counterparts. There is plenty of union
idiocy but it is usually a response to management arbitrariness.

I think that calling Disney "arrogant" in their response to a group of
people who wanted to control what movies -I- get to see and whether other
people whose sex lives that group doesn't like got to go to Disneyland on
the same basis as others is grossly misleading.


At 2:47 AM -0500 8/24/98, llion wrote:
>I should clarify that I mean no disrespect to all unions,  for instance
>the writer's unions,  the Graphic Artists' Guild,  etc.  -- I meant to
>refer specifically to those unions which have gotten so drunk on
>worker's "rights" that they now dictate ridiculous conditions to their
>I realize I didn't make this clear.  I was thinking specifically of
>certain industrial unions, where conditions really have gotten out of
>Supply and demand is a delicate creature:  the Graphic Artists' Guild
>helps maintain balance by doing what it can to keep employers from
>becoming too powerful over their employees and freelancers.  The unions
>I view as destructive are those that have tampered with and upset the
>balance in the other direction.
>Those who understand and can work with the laws of supply and demand can
>not only become rich,  but can contribute meaningfully in a profitable
>way.  Those who cannot or will not accept the notion end up demanding to
>be paid based on what they want,  rather than what they are worth.  If
>you've got something to offer that a million other people can't just as
>easily supply for less money,  and you know how to market yourself,  why
>get all bent out of shape just because not everyone understands a good
>Of course attitude affects a lot too.  Characterizing all clients as
>thieves who will steal your work,  etc.  makes about as much sense as
>employers characterizing all employees as thieves who will steal from
>the office,  embezzle and steal inventory.  Understanding both points of
>view would probably net you a good deal more profit than those grudges
>some of you carry.
>As far as Disney,  if everyone quit trying to focus on changing them,
>they could do like creatives did in the comic book industry when they
>quit DC en masse to form their own comic book company.  Last I heard
>DC is faltering and the independents are snapping up the market share
>all over the place.  I understand film requires more funding.  I also
>understand that Disney is a universally unpopular company,  even with
>consumers who buy their product for lack of anything better on the
>shelves.  They have a bad reputation for greedy business practices,
>they're arrogant -- when they learned the Southern Baptists were
>boycotting them,  they issued a snotty statement about how the Southern
>Baptists need Disney more than Disney needs Southern Baptists -- and
>they mangle the stories they try to tell:  the only thing they have
>is gorgeous animation.  So why does all that great talent desire to work
>for Disney anyway?

Gunnar Swanson Design Office
1404 Claremont Drive
Davis CA 95616

v: 530/759-0280
f: 530/759-0281
e: [log in to unmask]

email at UC Davis Design Program: [log in to unmask]

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