No not the medical kind, I’m talking about the recent infection of staff position offers hitting VFX artists at various facilities in California. I’ve been hearing:
I was interested in checking out the union stuff but I’ve finally been offered a staff position!
My advice: if you are offered staff, accept it. Benefits and a “permanent job” are great but take it with grain of salt. Look, the VFX organization drive is the worst kept secret in the world. Everyone knows about it, even the facility executives.
One very effective way to prevent unionization is offering concessions such as staff positions. It’s strategically smart. I suspect the anticipated argument against unionization will be “oh if we go union we’ll have to get rid of staff positions and go back to contracts!”
History has been unkind to those who have fallen for this:
Everybody who’d been there at Sony as permanent staff liked the profit sharing and matching 401(k) Plan contributions they got from the company. So they voted “No,” and convinced most of the temporary employees to cast their ballots the same way.
And some time after that, a lot of them got laid off and they lost their high-end benefits. The people who stayed on were told they had to go to production hire status, so they got none of the goodies they’d been getting before. And a bunch of them said to me, “You know, if we had this to do over again, we’d probably vote “yes.” …
The truth is the contract positions have always been the intention of management as a model that mimics physical production. I’m sure if the VFX organization drive fails, things will go right back to normal:
(Imageworks is) shifting from employing artists full-time to a production crew model, in which most are hired on a project-by-project basis, and only key people are kept on permanently.
“It’s part of the maturation of the vfx business. It’s become more like physical production,” said Imageworks exec VP-general manager Randy Lake.
I completely understand the reason behind going to a physical production crew based model. However, a key compenent to the physical production model is having a union for workers to receive portable benefits that can cover their families in between gigs. Almost every physical production nationwide is unionized.