Anti-poaching Inquiry

I haven’t had a chance to post about the recent news concerning collusion but I have been speaking with counsel about the matter. One firm has been trying to get more information about the issue and I asked them if they could provide me with some info to pass along to readers:

ADVERTISING MATERIAL

Did you work at a visual effects or animation studio between 2004 and 2010? You may have been underpaid. We’re looking for people who worked at any of the following studios:

  • DreamWorks
  • Digital Domain
  • Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • DisneyToons
  • Sony Picture Imageworks
  • Blue Sky Studios
  • ImageMovers
  • Laika
  • Pixar (non-salaried employees only)
  • Lucasfilm (non-salaried employees only)

If you’re interested in participating in a lawsuit against DreamWorks and other studios for conspiring to suppress the wages of animators and visual effects artists, or if you have information about that conspiracy, please contact attorney Jeff Dubner at 202-589-2285 or jdubner@cohenmilstein.com.

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, 1100 New York Ave NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005.

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Soldier On.

31 Responses to Anti-poaching Inquiry

  1. If you still work at these studios, would participating hurt your continued employment there?

    • vfxmafia says:

      I would start keeping documentation (like email diary) as soon as you become part of the lawsuit. The lawsuit if engaged ….people would have to be eventually named publically.

      At that point anything fishy can be reported to the law firm.

  2. Frank says:

    Will this kind of lawsuit really help any artist? Or will it mainly enrich a few lawyers and drive up the costs of operating a VFX studio in USA?

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      What a stupid comment!
      Will fair wages drive up costs compared to slaving away? I’m sure you can guess the answer….

      • Frank says:

        What an erudite response.

        Every year VFX studios fail financially, losing jobs and leaving employees unpaid. Yes subsidies are a problem, too. Low pay hasn’t been a hallmark of the VFX industry, especially in California. This lawsuit will do nothing to help artists in California, it just increases the costs of the studios that remain in USA.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Again as an artist the cost is not my problem. The profit is carried on the back of the artist. Treat them fairly!

      • vfxmafia says:

        @ Frank

        This lawsuit is a good one. They have proof and documentation….and the investigation is spreading to more companies. Also the judge has already come out publically as saying she in not opposed to expanding penalties to the involved companies The new lawsuit is based on the new public information…

        so yes it has really good chance of winning and paying out.

        I was in the industy when the EA lawsuit happened….over staff employees not getting paid OT. A buddy of mine got paid a decent chunk of change.

        Class action suits do work…(although they take years to try and get a verdict)

    • Jackadullboy says:

      Will this kind of wage-fixing really help artists? Or will it simply line the pockets of a few studio execs and artificially lower the costs of running a VFX studio in the USA?

    • jona says:

      It is just noise. Chatter. Won’t help anyone. “You may have been underpaid” LOFL. Yeah. NO shit. If you agreed to a rate, that’s all you’re ever going to get. There are no pay standards that any lawsuit can use for retribution. Whether it results from inter-corporate collusion or not, there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it. The rich sleezebags that own these corps don’t send millions of dollars to the DEMOCRATS for nothing you know.

      • vfxmafia says:

        jona….

        doesn’t sound like you been in the business too long….

        there have been a few lawsuits that have won and changed things….might want research the EA lawsuit and Yucor Lawsuit

      • jonavark says:

        Repayment of erroneous deductions. Not the same as simply agreeing to work for a rate and expecting some standard be retroactively applied to that rate.

        I started in VFX in 1985.

    • Rex Lewis says:

      Do you really believe that the sharks running the studios that fail are actually losing money? That’s a bit naive don’t you think??

  3. Notme says:

    There should be a similar initiative setup for London studios, lots of stories concerning poaching, holidays due non-paid, pressure to work unpaid weekends, hr of competitive companies phoning up each other to share employees sensibile infos including rates..

    • Jackadullboy says:

      Interesting how a number of companies have a habit going completely silent after rates are discussed… This despite apparent enthusiasm before and during the interview.

      • vfxmafia says:

        @ Jack

        Jack Im so glad you brought this up. Ever apply for a job and EVRYTHING is going well……..until the HR person asks your current rate…..and the then …they just stop talking to you.

        Chances are that was collusion.

      • toolonginthisgame says:

        Christ, you guys are paranoid. “chances are that was collusion” – As someone who has done a lot of interviewing and been in the rate discussion more times than I care to mention I can tell you the main reason for silence is the “fcuk me, that’s high!” and you’re just too embarrassed to continue the conversation, plus there’s no point in continuing.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        I agree with that. bUT if they did not collude and share the rates they would not know what you or others make! It’s the same hr that tells you that you cannot discuss your rates with your peers. Which is bullshit anyway.

      • vfxmafia says:

        @ toothlong

        I been in the game 20 years too….

        Tell me you don’t take a pay cut when you work for ILM?
        Tell me after 20 years you didn’t notice some companies pay $10-15 hr less?

      • vfxmafia says:

        @toothlong

        and further more…I been getting my rate for the last 14 years…and am still currently getting it. I have however had to avoid the companies that are known to pay less…..

        now..on the other hand….in the 90’s ….thats when my rate was fucking high…….

      • No yet sold on anything says:

        @ Jablonka

        They don’t need collusion to know your rate is high. We always interview more than one person for a job and ask the same question on rate. So then we know what someone gets paid, thats hardly collusion. If they are both skilled we will opt for the cheaper artist, thats called smart business. There are far to many LA based artists living in dream worlds and not looking at the current market when naming unrealistic rates.

        Fact is this is a business and these days before we hire we know what our budget is for the entire crew as we bid a show before crewing. We then set pay banding per level of artists to make sure we have enough crew. As awarded shows budgets drop so do the pay bandings. Those companies not savvy enough at this go .. you guesssed it BANKRUPT.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Not sold:
        Thank you that is a good explanation of the process!

        I was referring to some companies knowing your rare before (!) you tell them or what rate you were at another shop. Knowledge they should not have.

    • Rex Lewis says:

      Yep, clever artists should be bugging the HR offices and catching these predators red handed. Did you know they refer ti artists as wrists? There is NO respect for artists among many of these business people especially the Ivy Leaguers with easy access to start up cash and a willingness to enslave the people they don’t consider their equals.

      • Peter Greenaway says:

        TRUE!

      • William C. says:

        there’s a huge list of HR’s predators. Basically the older ones from Framestore, MPC, Cinesite and the new ones from ILM, ( the one who migrated from PF to ILM ,she’ s very dangerous) ZOIC, Scanline, and many more.
        If you don’t find a job, for sure one of the “lovely” girls out there knows why.

      • Paul says:

        @William C. — The “new” ILM recruiter… are her initials CN ?

  4. I’m a little surprised this is limited to 2010. When I was hired at DD in 2012, I was offered identical length contracts for identical pay at both DD and RH the same week.. I figured for sure that the two companies were talking with each other.

  5. Thad Beier says:

    During the aughties, DD, Sony, R&H, and other companies would get together once a year to discuss rates for jobs. They had a long list of detailed job descriptions, and set rates based on these job descriptions and experience. This info is from a producer I used to work with who attended these meetings.

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      I see a certain irony in this!
      The refuses to form a trade org with Dr.ross but kinda already had one with their secret round table meeting…

    • Frank says:

      Not sure whether that’s legally allowed, but it is different than anti-poaching, and it doesn’t mean they have to communicate or discuss individual candidates

  6. murica says:

    Murica the land of the lawsuit. No wonder companies hate doing business there.

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