[Sidefx-houdini-list] VFX article

Agent Xray xray at agentxray.com
Mon Jun 18 11:15:46 EDT 2007

If anyone objects to the politicization of this list let me know and 
I'll shut it, but at further risk of making political statements on a 
technical mailing list...


I'm speaking of carrying private insurance in the freelance market 
rather than staff jobs with benefits. When health care costs rise to the 
point where a company can no longer operate profitably they will either 
go out of business or reorganize by reducing staff and hiring 
freelancers. State/union health care is not free but it would  level the 
playing field for _freelance_ artists. Currently if a company wants to 
retain a staff they do need to provide benefits to keep that staff 
healthy and happy but those staff jobs with benefits are shrinking in 
number. Experienced (aka older) artists are asked to compete in a 
freelance market where they need to account for that extra insurance 
dough in their hourly rate. It's difficult for an experienced artist to 
prove their worth in a short duration freelance negotiation against 
another artists willing to work for half the rate because they don't 
have the private insurance burden. I firmly believe that portable and 
affordable health care should be an entitled right not a privilege for 
the well heeled.


Johnson, Dave (Space Technology) wrote:
> Dave Johnson reluctantly joins the conversation, saying:
> State supported or union supported health care is not "free" health care. Someone is paying for it. Why should the people of the state pay for your health care costs? And why should the other members of your industry pay, whether they are at your company or not? As a senior experienced artist, if you're not worth $30k more a year to cover those costs, either you're not selling your attributes well enough, or something else is wrong--maybe the company. I'm not directing this to anyone in particular, and I am not saying that you personally are not worth the $30k a year more, Xray, I'm just talking politics here.
> I personally work for a company that is not unionized, and they are able to stay that way by taking good care of their employees, and providing benefits--including health care.
> Dave
> -----Original Message-----
> From: sidefx-houdini-list-bounces at sidefx.com on behalf of Agent Xray
> Sent: Sat 6/16/2007 12:13 PM
> To: sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
> Subject: Re: [Sidefx-houdini-list] VFX article
> One of the looming issues I can see is that the experienced artists and 
> supervisors who are generally a bit older than the fresh faced youth 
> have the additional overhead of providing health insurance for 
> themselves and their families. As anyone who has tried to get private 
> health insurance can confirm, medical insurance gets outrageously 
> expensive as you get older and add spouses and children. There is simply 
> no way that a head-of-household can compete in the freelance market 
> against recent college grads when the out of pocket insurance costs for 
> a family of four can easily be more than $30k a year. This is where 
> things like portable state supported or union supported health plans 
> could really help level the playing field for freelance CG artists. If a 
> freelancer with a family doesn't have to crack the insurance nut every 
> month that worker might be able to charge less and be more competitive. 
> This is the sort of thing the youngsters and bachelors just don't have 
> to think about when they shit on the union idea.
> -=X
> Andrew D Lyons wrote:
>> http://www.animationguild.org/_Home/home_FRM1.html
>> There is an animation - but not an effects union in the USA. (Another
>> reason why feature animation effects beats live action effects.)
>> Everyone that works at Dreamworks, much of Disney, and a bunch of
>> other 2D places is a member. They tell you to go home after a certain
>> time at DW. I left DW last September but my full family health cover
>> under the union plan doesn't expire until December this year. That's
>> thousands of dollars in saved expenses - and it greatly offsets the
>> initiation fee. There are definitely perks to being in the union. It
>> is possible for any shop to join this union if enough staff sign cards
>> saying they want in. Sony almost became a union shop a year or so
>> ago...
>> Cheers
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