What the memos reveal is that this wasn’t just some silly agreement that was made up between 2 recruiters over a coffee break. It was a clearly a mechanism designed to lower wages by some Big Bay Area tech company CEOs like Apple/Pixar’s Steve Jobs and Adobe’s Bruce Chizen:
In one particularly juicy piece of evidence from May 2005, Adobe’s CEO Bruce Chizen emailed Steve Jobs regarding “Recruitment of Apple Employees”. In the message, Adobe’s SVP for human resources writes “Bruce and Steve Jobs have an agreement that we are not to solicit ANY Apple employees, and vice versa.”
Then there is this memo sent by Pixar Vice President of Human Resources Lori McAdams:
“I just got off the phone with Danielle Lambert [of Apple], and we agreed that effective now, we’ll follow a Gentleman’s agreement with Apple that is similar to our Lucasfilm agreement.”
Lori McAdams has served as HR Director at other companies like Tippett Studios, Electronic Arts, and LucasFilm. LucasFilm and Pixar are involved in the collusion case. Was Tippett and EA also involved?
Furthermore, consider how remarkable this case has become. Steve Jobs, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. For VFX artists these names are nothing but legends to us and could do no harm. Look at what the Justice Department’s investigation revealed. Behind our backs they colluded to drive wages down.
What’s amazing is that even when warned that this practice was illegal Steve Jobs and others continued with the practice. PALM’s then CEO Ed Colligan sent an email to Steve Jobs that the no-poaching agreement was illegal:
“Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other’s employees, regardless of the individual’s desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal,”
We Need To Organize
Ask yourself this question: Why did the most trusted people in our industry betray us?
Because they could. They knew workers in our industry look at Steve Jobs, Pixar, and LucasFilm as idols and that we would shrug our shoulders and look the other way.
I’m disgusted by the tone of the emails. The agreements between the companies seemed so casually accepted. What if just an organization that represented VFX workers in California existed? Don’t you think the tone of those emails would have changed?
There would be at least some concern by the execs that they could run into problems with a guild that found out about the practice. Sure there’s the law (which only gave a slap on the wrist), but they’re looking at the forrest. We need something focused on our set of trees.
I couldn’t help but agree with VFX artist Dave Rand’s tweet that basically says this is all just a big calling card for us to unionize:
A Giant Neon Sign Blinking “Please PLEASE Organize!”…we are!…even illegally n shamelessly..and right in your face
It’s sort of funny to see so many VFX workers outraged about SOPA and Andy Serkis yet this gets not much play at all. Orwell was right when he said “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
But perhaps there are more of us coming around and connecting the dots to the bigger picture. I couldn’t help but agree with this anonymous comment on a post by The Animation Guild:
Americans need to understand that the 1% are rich not because they work harder, but because they work together. Collusion, sweetheart deals, and outright monopolies. lawmakers, lobbyists and lawyers work for their friends and their friends pay them back.
Anti-union efforts are intended to prevent the 99% from working together. Each artist acts like he or she is on his own and has to undercut everyone else to be “safe”. That’s a losers game.
Here are older posts on this issue: