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Unions Urging Actors Not To Work On Hobbit Movie

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the mordor-is-more-of-a-union-shop dept.

Lord of the Rings 576

lbalbalba writes "Last we heard about The Hobbit, Guillermo Del Toro dropped out, Peter Jackson was unofficially directing and secretly auditioning actors, the movie had yet to be green-lit, and Ian McKellen was getting super-antsy about the whole thing and threatening not to play Gandalf. This shouldn't help the long-gestating movie happen any quicker: Actors guilds including SAG issued actual alerts yesterday against working on any of the Hobbit films, advising their members not to take parts in the non-union production, should they be offered them."

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576 comments

Hobbits are gay. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705370)

This fact is irrefutable.

Re:Hobbits are gay. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705420)

but they have bigger penises than you. AND have sex with more women than you.

Re:Hobbits are gay. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705428)

GP poster has a greased up Frodo doll... er action figure... all ready for action.

One does not... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705378)

simply walk into an audition.

Re:One does not... (5, Funny)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705392)

Well, one does if they serve po-ta-toes

Re:One does not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705778)

That depends. Are the po-tay-toes boiled, mashed, or stuck in a stew?

Are There Actual Peter Jackson...Fans??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705738)

Can't wait to see how this talentless hack of a director butchers another Tolkien work.

But, hey!, it doesn't matter as long as it's got a massive special effects budget...

First Union? (4, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705382)

Bah. While there's no doubt that, at one point, unions served a vital purpose in protecting workers from abuse, nowadays, they're merely another expensive middle-man cost. Paid for by the protection racket^H^H^H^union dues and ultimately by the consumer.

Thank you, no.

Re:First Union? (0, Flamebait)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705424)

What sort of amendment to the First Amendment would you have in mind to prevent collective bargaining by employees with their more powerful employers^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^Wprotection rackets?

And is it the fact that the gap between the richest and the new middle class has coincided with the reduction of union power that makes you happiest, or the simple fact that when someone is yellow and lives on the other side of the world you can forget how they are being treated entirely?

Re:First Union? (2, Insightful)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705468)

You know, it just occurred to me: Unions are able to organize across an entire industry, but how frequently do employers bargain collectively with the unions? If not, then the unions are MORE powerful than their employers, and we're left with an anti-employer power balance. Unions exploiting employers is almost as counterproductive as employers exploiting workers. Once they dealt with the unsafe working conditions and unreasonably low wages they kept on fighting and got unreasonably high pensions, etc. That's the problem most people have with unions, not their fundamental purpose. What say you?

Re:First Union? (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705514)

Not quite a cartel or collusion, but you can be sure those two terms would be thrown up as those employers are crucified in the media.

Re:First Union? (5, Insightful)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705516)

Unions have also claimed to attempt to secure equal pay for equal work, which remains an outstanding concern for particular genders and races. Since unions have not succeeded in closing such gaps over decades since the industrial safety problems were resolved, but instead have installed a seniority regime that systematically ignores workers' performance of their duties in determining wages and job security, we should be open to breaking the unions' monopoly on representing worker rights.

Re:First Union? (1, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705564)

The individual employer is rich and owns the means of production whereas the individual worker is poor and does not own the means of production, so even if you have one voice speaking together for all the workers, you still do not have a voice more powerful than the employers. Strike pay, where it exists, may mitigate for the rich versus poor disparity, but it is very temporary because the unions still don't own the means of production.

It is only in the US with its comparatively low rate of unionisation that people have such a passionate aversion to unions, and I don't know enough detail about current US unions to know if it is something peculiarly pathological about them or simply that the politics of the country is far more uncomfortable about collective worker bargaining. One thing I do recognise in the US is a peculiar desire to bring others down rather than try to achieve what they have: IOW, if a union job brings someone good pay and good pension, why don't you fight for those same privileges?

Re:First Union? (5, Insightful)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705620)

Because the wrong people invariably end up with the job security and ridiculous pension. There is no real method in typical US union contracts for weeding out the bad, since they're seniority based rather than performance based when it comes to job security.

Re:First Union? (1, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705658)

The individual employer is rich and owns the means of production whereas the individual worker is poor and does not own the means of production, so even if you have one voice speaking together for all the workers, you still do not have a voice more powerful than the employers.

Really? That seems to be the exception in the US, not the rule. The owners of most of these companies you seem to disparage are the stockholders, like me for instance, who is not rich by any stretch of the imagination. The union members are not poor either, making a median income of $47,000 a year.

One thing I do recognise in the US is a peculiar desire to bring others down rather than try to achieve what they have: IOW, if a union job brings someone good pay and good pension, why don't you fight for those same privileges?

You mean by doing our best at what we do? Or like the unions do by limiting where people can work (where you have to be a member of the union local in order to work there), requiring all employees to be a member of the union or they can't work there (union shops), or giving preference by length of work rather than ability (seniority rules)?

What you talk about was true a century ago. Today, it's time has passed.

Re:First Union? (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705742)

The owners of most of these companies you seem to disparage are the stockholders, like me for instance,

The formation of a corporation is collective decision-making and bargaining by owners of the means of production. Major shareholders are the rich guys, and even minor shareholders have a certain degree of control of the means of production. These are the powers exerted over the worker which he counters with collective bargaining.

You mean by doing our best at what we do?

It is pretty much only the US middle class which considers the US to be marked by "doing our best at what we do". If what you said were true, you would see precisely the opposite thing happening to what is actually happening to the US middle class.

What you talk about was true a century ago. Today, it's time has passed.

The workers experiencing the worst treatment may no longer be in the US and the UK, and certain Unions may be old enough that they have become inefficient, but the nature of business has not changed.

Re:First Union? (5, Informative)

mjtaylor24601 (820998) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705640)

but how frequently do employers bargain collectively with the unions?

All the time. Ever heard of a public corporation? That's just an embodiment of a group of partial owners (aka stock holders) joining together to gain, among other things, the benefits of collective bargaining power.

Re:First Union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705472)

"You're a racist!" Nice argument, FNN.

Re:First Union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705498)

What sort of amendment to the First Amendment would you have in mind to prevent collective bargaining by employees with their more powerful employers^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^Wprotection rackets?

And is it the fact that the gap between the richest and the new middle class has coincided with the reduction of union power that makes you happiest, or the simple fact that when someone is yellow and lives on the other side of the world you can forget how they are being treated entirely?

Holy non sequitur, Batman!

Re:First Union? (5, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705518)

What sort of amendment to the First Amendment would you have in mind to prevent collective bargaining by employees with their more powerful employers^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^Wprotection rackets?

If freedom of association means employees have the right to join a union and engage in collective bargaining, then surely it also means they have the right to either join a different union (which the law often prevents under "sole bargaining agent" provisions) or not be represented by any union at all (which, again, is not always possible).

Re:First Union? (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705584)

Freedom of association also means an employer can agree to hire only union workers.

Re:First Union? (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705650)

And we have anti monopoly laws and anti cartel laws modulating this freedom

Re:First Union? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705792)

Keep in mind too that union workers can freely choose to walk off the set if a non-union worker shows up. The upshot may be that only movies with an exclusively no-name cast can be made in New Zealand.

Re:First Union? (2, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705656)

Freedom of association also means an employer can agree to hire only union workers.

Yes, but that's not how it works in practice. What actually happens is that a majority of employees (say, 60%) decide they wish to be represented exclusively by a particular union, in which case that union becomes the sole bargaining agent for all employees (including the 40% who were against it).

Re:First Union? (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705734)

Yes, but that's because the employer freely chose not to lose 60% of it's workforce in a single instant. That in turn is because that 60% freely chose to associate with the union even if it wanted them to freely choose not to associate with their employer anymore.

Re:First Union? (2, Informative)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705600)

have the right to either join a different union (which the law often prevents under "sole bargaining agent" provisions)

A law which restricts unions is not a problem with unions (even if there are some unions which abuse it, as certain large corporations abuse laws in their favour)...

Re:First Union? (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705668)

A law which restricts unions is not a problem with unions (even if there are some unions which abuse it, as certain large corporations abuse laws in their favour)...

It's a problem for employees who wish to join a different union.

Re:First Union? (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705520)

Collective bargaining fails because it fails to take into consideration everyone's strengths and weaknesses. It makes it impossible for people who do well to get ahead and to remove the people who do a sub-par job. Secondly, the union mentality leads to groupthink, people stop thinking for themselves and instead have devotion to their union which even influences how they vote. If the union head says to vote for X candidate, people will do it thinking that they will get a better result, but very, very few will actually pursue the candidate and look at his views to see if they agree with them.

Unions can use mob-like tactics to block decisions made by management while management is powerless to stop them. For example, if you walk out of the job and strike, you should be able to be fired, no questions asked, you broke your end of the contract.

Re:First Union? (4, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705652)

It makes it impossible for people who do well to get ahead and to remove the people who do a sub-par job.

In what way does it make it "impossible"? I mean, in countries with a history of high unionisation rates such as Germany, is nothing of good quality ever built because the good men are kept down and the bad men are kept on?

It's perfectly possible for bad negotiations between the union and employer to result temporarily in something like you describe, just like it is possible for a businessman to choose his son to take the reins rather than his best performing underling, but there is nothing inevitable about this. And, in both cases, the long-term effect is that the company will not succeed (assuming its success is not guaranteed somehow, e.g.if by government).

people stop thinking for themselves and instead have devotion to their union which even influences how they vote.

And again, you're using a pathological extreme. Of course you show loyalty to those who have an understanding of your plight and your interests in mind, but you must still remain vigilant for corruption or plain bad decision-making. To what individual in any particular grouping of primates formed for whatever reason does this not apply?

For example, if you walk out of the job and strike, you should be able to be fired, no questions asked, you broke your end of the contract.

OK, but then everyone else will strike.

Re:First Union? (3, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705670)

What sort of amendment to the First Amendment would you have in mind to prevent collective bargaining by employees with their more powerful employers

That's a silly question. The debate over unions has nothing to do with the first amendment. It's to do with legal protections unions have lobbied for themselves including the National Labor Relations Act and a whole lot of subsequent regulation. In short of course you have the right to assemble and collectively bargain all you want, but your employer shouldn't be forced by law to assist you with that.

By the way, it's pretty amusing that the issue of choice when it comes to union membership is invoked by the same people who think that corporations have to be heavily regulated because, presumably, their customers have no choice but to buy their products. In a heavily unionized industry a worker has no real choice but to join the union, while a diabetes ridden fat slob does have a choice not to eat at McDonalds.

Re:First Union? (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705680)

It is interesting to make threads like this, and to watch moderation bounce very frequently between Flamebait and Insightful, perhaps depending on the political opinions of the particular moderator reading the thread.

Another possibility is just to give your thoughts/opinion/experience, you know? :-)

Re:First Union? (1, Offtopic)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705790)

Modding on slashdot has been a joke for a long time. I don't even pay any attention to it anymore. Maybe give them "I Disagree" option or something so they don't abuse Troll and Flamebait so much on posts that are obviously neither.

Re:First Union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705426)

All things decay over time.

Re:First Union? (4, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705430)

nowadays, they're merely another expensive middle-man cost

Unions are paid directly by their membership, or in certain legislated instances, directly by those they represent in contract negotiations.

The only "middle-man" cost to a union is the wages that workers receive when they bargain collectively. To argue that this is an "increased" cost, you need to refute the union's basic premise -- that collective bargaining brings about a "fair" wage.

While you're about it, please include an example where everyone having to haggle for the cost of a head of lettuce is also "fair", please.

Re:First Union? (4, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705454)

Yes. You pay them, and then they tell you when you're allowed to work. Got a mortgage? Too bad, someone three states over called for a strike, so you dont get to work this month.

Not saying its all bad, group bargaining is important. But often the union organizers are in it for themselves rather then the members.

Re:First Union? (0, Troll)

funkatron (912521) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705512)

Don't join in then. You want to go to work then go to fucking work, your employer will probably love you.

Re:First Union? (4, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705522)

You often dont have an option to not join. For example, try being a non-union actor. No one will hire you because the union says their members cant work on films with non-union actors.

Re:First Union? (1, Interesting)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705546)

True. You're required to join Teamsters at the local UPS, and after your dues, you make less than minimum wage. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of unions?

Re:First Union? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705594)

Sorry, by "join in" I meant "join in with the strike from 3 states away". I need to use more words sometimes.

Re:First Union? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705664)

That's what happens in a free market that allows exclusivity contracts. If entity A signs an exclusive contract with entity B, then you as entity C can no longer provide services covered by that contract to entity A, until the exclusive deal expires or is cancelled.

Re:First Union? (3, Informative)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705618)

You are forced to join unions and pay money to them even if you don't like what they are doing - otherwise you aren't allowed to work due to union agreements that essentially enforce a monopoly for the workforce.

You also can't start a competing union with a premise of making more effective agreements (i.e., scrapping seniority requirements for promotion which hamper talented youngsters) and charging less of worker's salaries in union fees - since the old union would force the employer to choose between only them and only you, and you can't replace an entire company worth of workforce overnight; where there are multiple competing unions, it's only due to historic basis, they are consolidating much more than the employer megacorps.

So much for your freedom to organize yourself freely. If you dislike policies that favor the old union guys (pay increases limited to seniority, instead of job quality; unqualified coworkers not pulling their weight, where nobody can get rid of them, etc), then well, you can suck it up, there is nowhere you can go. If you are stuck with a few corrupt or simply lazy guys at the union top, then you are *really* stuck with them and not much you can do, but keep paying them.

      If you have a bad boss, you can switch to a different job or branch; If you dislike employer policies, you can switch employers - it's a huge pain in the ass, but switching your industry to get to a different union is not so easy - so you just keep paying part of your salary as a tax to guys you hate and policies you don't accept. (well, some similarities to the government there).

Re:First Union? (1)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705536)

Many / most are legislated instances. Many / most legislated instances state that the union represents everybody. This lands the union with a monopolistic scenario and requires everyone to pay them whether they're a "member" or not.

Re:First Union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705574)

The world is full of actors. They certainly do not need unions for heavy-handed "collective bargaining". Don't like the wage? Fuck off and get a real job then. How about companies start demanding wage caps on "actors"? Does Tom no talent Wanks needs 50million/year? How about Tom even-worse Cruise? Pull an actor off a stage, they'll do a better job and be 100x cheaper.

Unions == Unskilled shitheads hiding behind militant losers that have even less skills.

ring ring, 1800s want their labor protection rackets back.

Re:First Union? (5, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705464)

Unions still serve the same role they ever did. It's an important role.

It may impose cost, but whatever costs it imposes are the other side of keeping it being a reasonable and workable thing to be an actor.

In modern times, we don't need less collective bargaining, we need more. If, for example, medical interns had a union to prevent 16-hour shifts, I imagine we could agree that to be a step forward. Cost to consumer is not the only thing worth optimising in society, and harmful competition still exists.

Re:First Union? (4, Interesting)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705672)

The SAG is different from most labor unions in that they represent workers who are paid for creative output rather than pure labor. It is in an actor's best interest not to slack off and put in a mediocre performance because their future employment prospects are dependent on their portfolio of (hopefully quality) work. This isn't how things work out in unions representing menial laborers.

There was a recent Daily Show where the UFCW was picketing a Wal-Mart for their anti-union practices. The catch is that the picketers were non-union temp workers paid minimum wage to represent the union's cause without any of the benefits. They even had their hours reduced because the union member who supplied the signs had limited time available. This is the sort of bullshit most unions create. They are just out to justify their own existence and keep their members secure in the knowledge that they are protected for slacking off and obstructing efficiency.

Collective bargaining is a powerful tool to uplift the exploited, but as with all forms of power it is all to easily abused and usually is.

Re:First Union? (2, Insightful)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705696)

Completely disagree.

Collective bargaining encourage mediocre performance. It rewards people who should lose their jobs because they perform below the average, and it creates an incentive for the above average performers to lower their performance to the average, because they're not going to receive any rewards for standing out. There is a downward trend in performance and productivity, yet the union typically wants more pay for that reduced productivity.

I'd much rather see people rewarded on their merits. If they do an above average job they should receive above average pay. However the unions won't allow that because it reduces the role they have a vested interest in performing.

Our market system rewards productivity - people (and very much likely to be including you), reward productivity by seeking value for money - you buy the most for the least. With collective bargaining encouraging mediocre performance, how do consumers (who are also include those union members) get best value for money?

There is a place for employees creating group representation when things such as health and safety are involved. But when it is about collective bargaining and "union shops" then it is a corruption of the meritocracy that our market system relies on and that everybody, including the union members, both create and participate in.

Re:First Union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705798)

Unions still serve the same role they ever did.

To extort money from members pension funds and take payoff's from the mob??? shoehornjob

Re:First Union? (1, Funny)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705466)

The Film Actors Guild strikes again.

By following the rules of the Film Actor's Guild, the world can become a better place; that handles dangerous people with talk and reasoning; that is the F.A.G. way. One day you'll all look at the world us actors created and say, "Wow, good going, F.A.G. You really made the world a better place, didntcha, F.A.G.?"

The guilds are even dumber (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705490)

They have some really stupid restrictions. Take Sin City for example. Frank Miller was very unwilling to have any more of his work turned in to a movie, because he'd been badly screwed over by Hollywood. Robert Rodriguez figured he would win Miller over and in fact did. So they started work on the movie. Rodriguez felt that Miller did so much in directing the film that he was an equal, not an assistant director, but another director. However the Director's Guild doesn't allow that. All films have one and only one director. There can be assistants, but only one director. In the end, Rodriguez left the DGA so that Miller could have director credit. Because of that, he lost his position as director on another film.

The guilds in Hollywood are in every way as corrupt and stupid as the studios themselves.

Re:The guilds are even dumber (5, Interesting)

braeldiil (1349569) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705622)

1) The Director's guild rule is there for a reason - it keeps the money-men from insisting of directing credit. Director's decided they wanted to get credit for their work, instead of living with a legal type system, where the headline billing goes to the biggest name, not the people who did all the work. Judges don't actually write most of their work, but they get all the credit. And the same goes for big law firms, where the people doing most of the work (paralegals and researchers) get no credit at all. Anyway, this was a big problem (for the directors, at least) when Hollywood was young, so when they unionized it was one of their basic principles. And its a reasonable position, even if you disagree with it. 2) Rodriguez knew the rules when he joined the guild. He knew the rules when he tried to name Miller as co-director. He was given multiple chances to back off, and chose instead to thumb his nose at the guild. It became an ego issue with him, and the guild reacted as they had to. Remember, the guild cares deeply about their members getting proper credit, and bending here immediately opens the door for other to claim director's credit (J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter, for instance). This wasn't a case of a guild be capricious - it's a guild protecting a (or perhaps the) core value of their members - that the director of the film deserves credit (or blame) for his or her film.

Re:The guilds are even dumber (4, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705718)

Remember, the guild cares deeply about their members getting proper credit

I guess "their" is the key word, as they weren't interested in actually representing how the movie was made, but by who was actually paying the guild their dues. Seems like it really is all about the "money-men" still.

Re:First Union? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705496)

Yeah that is why CEO pay is now 300x the average worker versus 30x. The problem with the American Dream is everyone thinks one day they will be rich, so lets make all the laws good for rich people.

The middle class should be very powerful - however the decepticons - I mean the republicans - have convinced everyone the unions, public options for health care, etc are all communist.

The top marginal tax rate has been on a downward trend since the sixties. Income trends reflect the upper 20% are earning more and more percentage of the total national income - unions are one way to fight this.

But sure convince yourself we don't need them, and ask yourself in 20 years why there are rich and poor and no middle class.

Re:First Union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705508)

>Yeah that is why CEO pay is now 300x the average worker versus 30x.

Citation please.

Re:First Union? (5, Informative)

jpate (1356395) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705606)

ok [ucsc.edu] (and citations therein). If you can't be bothered to read the whole thing, search the page for "344:1" for the pay gap, and see the third-to-last paragraph for some discussion on unions and a reference.

Re:First Union? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705548)

Baww.. enjoy asking people if they want fries with their order the next time you go into work.

Protip: find a job where people are willing to pay out the nose for your service because they really need it and because it's so complicated they can't do the job themselves (i.e. be a businessman and start a business, become a doctor, become a lawyer, etc, anything that requires a lot of specialized knowledge).

Re:First Union? (2, Informative)

Gradius (164694) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705754)

Actually it's worse than that....

and this comes from a Sociologist known as David Harvey. His estimate of CEO pay to the average working salary as of 1970 the ratio was 30:1, as of 2000 it was 500:1.

If you need to look where the pay drain is, look no further.

Re:First Union? (4, Insightful)

Reverberant (303566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705524)

Bah. While there's no doubt that, at one point, unions served a vital purpose in protecting workers from abuse, nowadays, they're merely another expensive middle-man cost.

Tell that to the workers of the Upper Big Branch Mine [wikipedia.org].

Re:First Union? (0, Offtopic)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705630)

So one example shows that every employer abuses their employees? Makes about as much sense as saying all car tires are unreliable because one goes flat.

Re:First Union? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705632)

What does the union's actions in the story do to improve job site safety?

Re: First Union? (2, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705704)

Bah. While there's no doubt that, at one point, unions served a vital purpose in protecting workers from abuse, nowadays, they're merely another expensive middle-man cost.

Yeah, 'cause there aren't any employers who would take advantage of their employees anymore.

Re:First Union? (0)

AmElder (1385909) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705714)

I've never been part of a US actor's union, but in the UK, Equity does a lot of good for people in a profession that consists almost entirely of freelancers. (I'm looking at the website to make sure I'm representing the full range of what they do, since I haven't needed most of their services in this point in my professional life)

  • They help out actors who need legal help
  • They collect and distribute royalties
  • You can ask them for help understanding contracts and the nuances of working overseas
  • Members get access to special on-the-job insurance
  • They organize the pension scheme for actors in the UK.
  • And of course they represent actors in collective bargaining to establish fair wages and healthy working conditions.
  • And the union performs many other functions as well.

Freelancing is always difficult, and the performers' unions make it easier for actors to make a living doing what we do. Actors generally have little power in the workplace (aside from a few wealthy stars). Collective bargaining helps even the scales. Because of the union's previous work, it's not as central to performers lives as it once was. Most of my colleagues enjoy the standards established by the union without realizing the history or the work the union continues to do to maintain a decent working conditions. It looks like in New Zealand, those standards don't exist yet.

According to TFA this is part of a push by the Australian actors' union to unionise productions in New Zealand. The American film actors unions are acting in solidarity. If stars involved in the production, like Ian McKellan, follow the advisory, it will probably work. Then the actors involved would be compensated in line with actors in Australia. Obviously a "Do Not Work order" is bad for everyone involved, so hopefully in addition to confrontation, the union is trying the carrot as well.

I don't know if this constitutes either news for nerds or stuff that matters. Personally, I wish someone other than Peter Jackson would do this film. I thought his LOTR films were awful.

eh? (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705394)

Aren't these the same movies (producers?) that used 'hollywood accounting' to turn virtually no profit and thus dodge paying a huge chunk of money to Tolkien's trust or what ever they call themselves?

But they are all replaceable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705416)

As long as the producer has a good script (kind of simple considering the high quality of the book's writing), with all the talent in the world, and modern technology available to produce one of these fantasies, everyone else is replacemable.

Hollywood has never been big about leaning from its past mistakes.

See how destructive unions can be? (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705434)

>>>"The Do Not Work Order tells actors, "If you are contacted to be engaged on The Hobbit please notify your union immediately."

It should be up to the actors whether or not they want to work on a non-union film. But I guess this is what happens when you make megaliths like corporations... there has to be counter-balancing force like the union, and the citizen gets squashed in the middle.

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (4, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705476)

If you say "oh hey only do this if you feel like it", collective bargaining gives way to a "race to the bottom" as employers hire the people who are willing to break ranks. The benefit of all is better served by standing together.

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (1)

ahankinson (1249646) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705570)

Only if you agree with the direction your union is taking. It works if you agree with the union leadership, but if you think they're being unreasonable (for example, demanding wage increases even if the employer is known to be under financial troubles), they're serving no one. If the unions were actual "locals," run by locals with a relationship with the employer, then things could be a bit more reasonable. But now we have these huge national unions (CUPE, CAW), and local leadership is often directed in a certain direction based on national policies, rather than an intimate knowledge of the specific nuances of the relationship between an employer and their employees.

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705828)

Very true, but in this specific case the "employer" is national (international?).

Also, members would completely undermine their union if they loosely pick-and-choose which policies to support. Once policy is decided at regular delegate elections, all should follow.

Having said that, overall I support unions. I suspect that, overall, you do not.

As always, it won't be hard to identify commenters' stances on unions. Let the games begin !

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (4, Insightful)

funkatron (912521) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705586)

This only holds if the union doesn't provide enough benefit to stop people from wanting to break ranks. And if there not doing that then there's no reason for them to be there at all.

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705772)

And if there not doing

there -> they're - i'm watching futurama here, sorry.

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705832)

Ya well few problems with that:

1) Talented people have no difficulty finding other work, and thus the competition keeps pay high. You may notice that there are a lot of non-union jobs out there that are quite good. I don't see CCIEs needing a union, they seem to be able to find work for lots of money. When you have a talent that is in demand, that alone takes care of compensation. People have to pay to keep you. This is the case with actors. They are in demand.

2) Much of the "Race to the bottom" you talk about has been taken care of by the government. If you research labour unions you find they came about because of industries with extremely exploitative and dangerous practices. That is now handled rather efficiently by oversight agencies like OSHA. They can bring more heat on an employer than a union ever could. In particular with Hollywood we aren't talking about minors who are perpetually in debt to the company store and working in dangerous conditions. We are talking about rich people working in the environment they choose.

3) Unions often crease a "race to the bottom" for employees. The protection of any and everyone leads to a situation where bad employees cannot be gotten rid of. That increases costs over all, and thus mean less compensation for good employees. In particular, many unions favour seniority over all else. So no matter your talent, no matter your work ethic, you are forced in to the same pay as everyone else at your level.

4) You have to deal with the realities of the world, and that there is non-union competition. I am not just talking about 3rd world sweatshop labour. Have a look at the American car companies. They compete with companies who are non-union, and build their cars right in America, like Toyota. Companies that pay well, have good working environments, but are not union and lack that overhead. You have to compete with that and unions tend to be bad at it.

I'm sorry but I just see a massive divide between the sort of pay and conditions that lead to unions back in the day, and the places where there are unions now. When you have a good work environment and make good money, you do not need a union.

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (1)

Radtoo (1646729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705610)

If I read the articles related to this right, the MEAA says the percentage of the movie profits shared with the actors is not high enough. The citizen does not get "squashed" in the middle, just actors want their share of the movie's profits. If you don't try to achieve a more fair distribution of profits, that is what will hurt citizens.

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705736)

>>>If you don't try to achieve a more fair distribution of profits, that is what will hurt citizens.

But it should be MY choice. Maybe I'm willing to work at only 75% my regular income, because I like the Hobbit and want to see it made. (Or maybe I'm just not greedy.)

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705716)

Whether "the citizen" gets squashed here depends a lot on which citizens you're talking about.

Union members choose whether or not to be in the union. There are benefits and costs to being in the union. The benefit is that you get the collective bargaining agreement of the union, access to some employment opportunities you might not otherwise have, and an organization that will stick up for you if management starts to abuse you. The cost is the dues, the need to follow the union contract on your end, and the cost of following the union's directives to prevent management from abusing you or another member of the union. In many but not all cases, being unionized is very good for the members of the union.

Now, you may think that the extra costs associated with hiring union workers drive up the price of whatever those union workers make. However, smaller productions that don't use union workers generally don't end up with prices (via tickets, DVDs, etc) significantly different than the unionized Hollywood productions. So the customer doesn't really get squashed either.

The only people who get squashed, then, are the managements of companies that form the MPAA. I'm ok with that.

Re:See how destructive unions can be? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705760)

>>>Union members choose whether or not to be in the union.

False. I wish it was true but in many cases (especially unionized factories/offices), there's no choice but to join. Some even subtract the dues direct from your paycheck.

SAG should hold out (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705452)

until Robert Rodriguez is chosen as director so this film can be done properly as per Tolkein's vision.

Re:SAG should hold out (2, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705642)

Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Produced By: Quentin Tarantino
Script By: J. R. R. Tolkien

Sounds like a winner to me!

Bye bye Hollywood, hello Bollywood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705456)

There will always be others willing to do a job if Americans refuse to do it..

Unions (5, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705462)

Unions are supposed to represent their members' interests, but the way unions behave these days I often wonder if it's not the members who are serving their unions. SAG prohibits is actors from working on non-union productions, and if it weren't for "right to work" statutes they would likely get away with it too. I do appreciate the need for pressure against employers who refuse to give fair treatment and compensation to their employees, but I often feel that unions are yet one more bureaucracy that employees have to deal with.

Re:Unions (5, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705532)

An organization is initially created for a specific purpose, but once met, it keeps on living, with its primary goal to justify its continued existence.

Re:Unions (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705544)

Unions limit economic freedom and prevent progress. With collective bargaining, everyone is looked at as interchangeable when in reality they aren't. There are some people who need to be fired because they are bad at their job, while other people should be promoted because they are better at theirs. Unions prevent this from happening, and prevent the basic economic right of seeking employment wherever you see fit.

Re:Unions (-1, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705566)

Ah, yes, a troll mod for pointing out obvious flaws in unions. Let me guess, your union told me to mod me troll?

Re:Unions (-1, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705582)

Dear idiot mod.

please grow some balls and debate my points, otherwise, you are just proving yourself incapable of forming your own opinions.

Thanks

Looks like one of the mods is a Teamster (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705602)

What is it with Slashdot and biased moderators these days? That you disagree with somebody's post is no reason to mod it as a troll. If a message is honestly intended then it isn't a troll no matter how strongly you disagree with it.

Re:Unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705830)

Retard, you posted all three posts under the same username...

Re:Unions (0, Troll)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705676)

Yes that's why there was so little progress in the 20th century and so much in the preceding ones. Read a fucking history book some time.

Re:Unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705674)

The truth is often marked troll.

Because people with vested interests in the status quo dont like the truth. It highlights how they are useless money grubbing bastards too well.

Unicorns? (3, Funny)

iamvego (785090) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705480)

Anyone else initially read that as "Unicorns Urging Actors Not To Work On Hobbit Movie". I imagined Charlie's "friends" yelling "Don't make the Hobbit film! It won't end we-e-e-llll. Noooo, it won't. It'll end ba-a-a-a-d. You must kill them Charlie, before it's too late."

dixit Alec Baldwin (3, Funny)

tommeke100 (755660) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705492)

By following the rules of the Film Actor's Guild(F.A.G.), the world can become a better place; that handles dangerous people with talk, and reasoning; that, is the fag way. One day you'll all look at the world us actors created and say, "wow, good going, fag. You really made the world a better place, didntcha, fag?"

Union Shop/Closed Shop. (5, Insightful)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705556)

I think that the union is trying to have US-style closed shops in New Zealand. Not a good plan.

"Closed Shops" are (from what I read) frowned upon (if not illegal) in New Zealand. It is up to the individual whether or not they join the union and pick up the collective contract. You can't force them, and you can't say, "You can only hire union members". This is different to the US and Canada which still allow "union shops" to exist.

Thankfully, Peter Jackson covers this in his statement:

    "He always honoured actors' union conditions if they were union members"

You want to have a full union membership in the cast? Approach them and ask them to join.

Re:Union Shop/Closed Shop. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705646)

However, the union members are not required to work there if they'd rather not be associated with an open shop. The union is not required to accept members who will not abide by the union rules.

If they want to produce a Hobbit movie using no union members at all, they are legally free to do so.

Re:Union Shop/Closed Shop. (3, Insightful)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705710)

It's the same in the UK. And you can have more than one union's members working at the same place. Under Margaret Thatcher in the UK, "Closed" and "Union" shops were made illegal. This seems to me to be an eminently sensible situation, as it allows both employees and employers the freedom to choose whatever union they wish.

MEAA isn't being truthfull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705576)

One of the main unions involved in this (the MEAA) can't even legally operate in NZ. The actors and film companies can't sign with them as the union doesn't actually exist in NZ. Its just an Australian company trying to slice a peice of the NZ film market.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/4169335/Jackson-fights-to-save-Hobbit

Those greedy little... (1)

Bjecas (1753752) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705730)

From TFA:

either issuing a non-mandatory contract that provides better terms for actors, or creating a joint venture between the production entity and the union.

So the film hasn't even been green-lit and they're already complaining about terms. I won't begrudge a man for trying to get a little extra on his pay check, but the union proposing a joint venture is just ridiculous. The worst part is that they can keep squeezing until the studio either caves in or sets up shop elsewhere, and they'll probably claim either of them as a victory, even if it means that a truck load of dwarves won't be getting any gold.

Haven't they licensed Ian's likeness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33705782)

I say they should fricking CG a rigged model of him in there as Gandalf if he gives them trouble. It's the easiest way to make him younger anyways-- and he's not the only one that needs to be younger. Just pull an Avatar.

So let me get this straight (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33705810)

SAG does not want non-union actors to work on the film. New Zealand's local actors are not unionized. Despite the first Lord of the Rings trilogy being filmed in New Zealand (maybe because Peter Jackson is from New Zealand), the SAG is now afraid that film makers will start making films in New Zealand without union support. Did they object during the first 3 films?
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