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Lord of the Rings Movies Entertainment

Unions Urging Actors Not To Work On Hobbit Movie 576

Posted by timothy
from the mordor-is-more-of-a-union-shop dept.
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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Unions Urging Actors Not To Work On Hobbit Movie

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:05PM (#33705378)

    simply walk into an audition.

    • by bhcompy (1877290) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:07PM (#33705392)
      Well, one does if they serve po-ta-toes
    • Re:One does not... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by inanet (1033718) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @07:46PM (#33706562)
      A big issue here in NZ is that it is illegal to force people into unions, and what the SAG and the other unions are trying to force,
      is that everyone must have a union contract.

      in NZ it must be an Opt-in collective, it cannot be compulsory. however that is exactly what SAG, FIA, et al are trying to force.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by raengler (163676)

        A big issue here in NZ is that it is illegal to force people into unions, and what the SAG and the other unions are trying to force,
        is that everyone must have a union contract.
        in NZ it must be an Opt-in collective, it cannot be compulsory. however that is exactly what SAG, FIA, et al are trying to force.

        That's what unions do....they are trying to sneak through laws here in the USA to make union membership compulsory....they can't get people to join of their own free will to pay the dues that keep the fat cat union bosses and the contributions to the Demo party.

      • Re:One does not... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by john82 (68332) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:01PM (#33707340)

        No one should be compelled to be a member of a union as a condition of employment.

      • Re:One does not... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Miseph (979059) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:21PM (#33707436) Journal

        How so? They're urging current members not to work on the film because the producers have opted not to meet union conditions. This is the only power the SAG actually has, and it is otherwise a complete waste of everybody's time.

        They have not, and cannot, force the film to use union actors or meet union conditions, nor can they force people to join their union, nor can they prevent union members from participating (they could, in theory, expel any members who do... but that is fairly unlikely, and doesn't keep them from doing the project regardless).

        For all the anti-union rhetoric and sentiment out there, at least in the US, union membership has steadily and dramatically declined during the past 30 years. The combined annual budget of all unions is substantially lower than each of the lobbying budgets for most of the Fortune 100 (ie. Wal-Mart spends more on lobbying than the AFL-CIO, Teamsters, SAG, etc. COMBINED spend on everything). They are particularly powerful, they are not particularly wealthy, they are not particularly abusive, and they certainly aren't scary enough to warrant all of the fear people have of them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by meerling (1487879)
          Then I guess the question is, what union conditions aren't being met? If it's gold plated expresso machine and $180/hr when on set, they can stuff it. If it's qualified medical personnel on site and proper sanitation facilities, I'm all for it. It all depends on what their screaming about.

          Yes, irta. Still not enough info about what's really going on demand wise, but it sounds like a shill for money and controlling who they hire, but I honestly got lost in all the stupid acronyms and attempts to avoid rea
  • First Union? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chas (5144) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:06PM (#33705382) Homepage Journal

    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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot@[ ]tles ... s ['cas' in gap]> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:15PM (#33705430) Homepage Journal

      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? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Kenja (541830) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:19PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Urza9814 (883915) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @08:53PM (#33707014)

          But often the union organizers are in it for themselves rather then the members.

          If that's the case, then you need to get a new union. Immediately.

          My mother was one of the founders of the nurses union at the hospital where she works. Prior to unionizing, wages sucked. Working conditions sucked. Nurses were harassed by doctors, and fired if they complained. Nurses were told that if the equipment to lift an overweight patient onto another bed wasn't available, just lift them up yourself. Led to a lot of back problems with the nurses - but if they didn't do it, they'd be fired. When the movement to unionize started, the hospital hired private detectives to follow some of the organizing nurses. For a few days there was a detective parked outside of our house, 24/7 watching our family.

          Now: wages are a lot better. Nurses aren't required to injure themselves. When doctors occasionally start screaming and swearing at a nurse, the nurse can complain without being fired - or just pull out their cellphone and say 'keep talking, I'm recording this' - that tends to solve the issue. Prior to the union, any nurse with the courage to do that would have been fired. And in general, relations between the nurses and management is a _lot_ better now. It was a bit strained at first, but it's improved immensely.

          Of course, I'm not going to say that _all_ unions are _always_ good - there was this English teacher in my highschool for example who essentially decided she just wasn't going to teach anymore. We watched probably 10+ movies in her class, and did several huge assignments that just never got graded - a few more that never even got turned in. She was late nearly every day, and didn't even show up at least 5 days out of every month. At the end of the year she did "resign", but the rumor was that she would have been fired _much_ sooner, but she had tenure, and the union made it incredibly difficult to fire even teachers who were blatantly just not doing their jobs.

          In my opinion, unions are generally good. Union organizers are generally good. But as with anything else, if they become too powerful, you will have problems. But then, without a union all that power belongs to the employer, which isn't a good situation either.

          • Re:First Union? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by seebs (15766) on Monday September 27, 2010 @02:14AM (#33708450) Homepage

            And how do you "get a new union" when the current union has a legal contract saying that the employer is not allowed to hire anyone in your line of work who isn't a member of that current union?

            Unions, churches, political parties... They start out because people have a vision of what they want to accomplish, but within a generation or so they exist to preserve and/or advance their own temporal power, and that means finding ways to keep people under their control.

            • Re:First Union? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by mcvos (645701) on Monday September 27, 2010 @06:02AM (#33709280)

              And how do you "get a new union" when the current union has a legal contract saying that the employer is not allowed to hire anyone in your line of work who isn't a member of that current union?

              Have that contract declared illegal. Many countries have anti-cartel laws.

    • Re:First Union? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:21PM (#33705464) Homepage Journal

      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? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by wiredlogic (135348) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:57PM (#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? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Aquitaine (102097) <.gro.masmai. .ta. .mas.> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @07:51PM (#33706588) Homepage

          I am an AEA member (the stage actor's union) which means I can join SAG if I want. But my point is the same for both unions.

          We do not need more collective bargaining. Both SAG and AEA spend a truckload on things like lobbying for health care. You should have seen our newsletters when congress was debating it -- first it was 'call your congressman and support this bill!' And then when it seemed like the 'Cadillac' plans would be taxed, it was 'call your congressman and fight this bill!'

          As a professional actor you do not have a choice when it comes to joining the unions. If you just act on the side then there are plenty of non-union stage jobs at dinner theaters and that sort of thing, and some professional tours every now and then (though the unions have pretty much successfully unionized these). When I got my first professional stage job, I forked over about 1/5 of what I was going to make over the 4 months of the tour for the $1400 initiation fee (and then paid a couple percentage points out of my pay check each week). You can't choose not to do it.

          Having said that, the acting unions, like most unions, perform a number of great functions. Before they existed, you couldn't make a respectable living as an actor -- now you can but it's just very hard (which is probably always going to be the case). There are lots of really helpful people who do things like go over all the time sheets because your stage manager didn't keep track of the hours you spent driving / assembling the show / acting the show, and you get a check in the mail 3 months after the fact because your union is looking out for you. They also help you with taxes and do a lot of fairly simple 'here's how the business works' type programs for new actors.

          But like most unions, they never ever give anything up that they've won in past negotiations. Before, the producers controlled the business; now the unions do, though of course they wouldn't put it that way. What's happened is that there's now a huge divide between the very small (99 or fewer) seat theaters and the 'professional' ones where they have to do everything according to union rules -- that means actor's union, the electricians' union, the stagehands' union ... because the unions stick together and if you get one on board, then you get 'em all. It's very, very difficult to make money running a theater, and as a consequence most bigger theaters won't produce anything unless it's a big hit show. So lots of fad musicals and less original drama. To some extent that's how the business would be anyway, union or not, but it's exacerbated by how expensive running an AEA theater is.

          Compared to groups like the SEIU, the entertainment unions are pretty tame, and as I hope I've made clear, I'm grateful for what my union has done for me -- but if I could, I'd tear them all apart and start from scratch, because we have the same big, bloated, self-serving unions just grabbing for the biggest piece of pie they can (an actual headline from Equity News last year: 'How AEA Will Get a Piece of the Stimulus Pie,' as if actors needed federal stimulus money!) in the same fashion that big business used to do it before the unions. No union leader stops and asks 'just because I CAN do this or demand that, should I?'

          It's all just a matter of degrees.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by anti-NAT (709310)

        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. I

        • Re:First Union? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:58PM (#33706192)

          There is a downward trend in performance and productivity, yet the union typically wants more pay for that reduced productivity.

          You're full of shit. Productivity has been going UP, not down, for the last 50 years or so. At some point, wages stopped keeping up. That's what you get for your union hostility.

          But don't worry, we're fighting our collective asses off for you, too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Antisyzygy (1495469)
          We tried it without collective bargaining, it lead to the Robber Barons exploiting workers, the infamous "coal" towns, and extremely poor working conditions paired with crappy pay for good work. In my working experience as well as my wife's and most of my friend's, typically the least productive and least skilled people are the management. Im not saying that simply because I disagreed with management's decisions periodically or because I am some person filled with jealousy over someones salary. I say it bec
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rockoon (1252108)

        In modern times, we don't need less collective bargaining, we need more.

        I disagree. We neither need more, nor less unions. It is not up to me to determine your working conditions any more than it is up to you to determine mine. If we work in the same field then we may agree that conditions need changing for both of us, but that it is up to us to agree to collectively fight for each other.

        More often than not, businesses unintentionally encourage unionization. These days it often begins with the workers attempting to organize a sick-out or other "hey, we arent happy so we are

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:27PM (#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.

      • by braeldiil (1349569) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:49PM (#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.
        • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:03PM (#33705718) Homepage Journal

          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Antisyzygy (1495469)
          Actually, if he willingly gave up on being named the director of the movie so Frank Miller could take credit in his place then he lacks ego, and instead has some humility. He did this at the cost of another movie deal as mentioned by the OP. Even if those are the rules, one should has some sort of review process for exceptions based on completely valid reasons.
    • Re:First Union? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:28PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reverberant (303566) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:34PM (#33705524) Homepage

      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? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot (19622)

      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.

  • eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:07PM (#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?
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:16PM (#33705434) Journal

    >>>"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.

    • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:23PM (#33705476) Homepage Journal

      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.

      • by funkatron (912521) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:43PM (#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.
        • by Fallingcow (213461) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:56PM (#33706178) Homepage

          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.

          If a person can get away with reaping the benefit of others' actions while simultaneously betraying them to their benefit, they generally will. An economist would call someone doing this a "rational actor", but on a large enough scale it kills collective action, even when everyone wants the action to be successful.

          Political scientists call it the Free Rider Problem.

          It's a big problem for groups like non-profit organizations, but it's also one of several key issues raised in the Tragedy of the Commons thought experiment, and it's why sometimes government action is necessary to cause everyone to behave a certain way, since even 100% approval for enacting such a law doesn't mean that 100% of people--or even a majority--will act that way without the law.

          In other words, no, simple economics (providing enough benefit to entice free actors to compliance) doesn't always work, or can become prohibitively expensive, even if all the members of your group think everyone should comply. There are not always market solutions to a problem.

          Sometimes taking away some individual freedom enables a group to provide better benefits to its members--that is, together, by giving up a bit of freedom, they can do or accomplish things that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible. It doesn't fit nicely with a the narrow understanding of freedom usually intended by the word (at least here in the U.S.) but it's true. Hell, it's the whole idea behind the Social Contract. More regulation doesn't always mean less freedom; done right it just means different freedom, and, every now and then, it means more freedom.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:15PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ultranova (717540)

          When you have a good work environment and make good money, you do not need a union.

          Problem is, if you don't have the bargaining power to defend these, you don't have them for long. And the chances are that you don't have it, no matter what delusions of grandeur about your own prowess you might harbour.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          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.

          You don't know any actors, do you?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by stephanruby (542433)

          They compete with companies who are non-union, and build their cars right in America, like Toyota.

          The NUMMI Fremont Toyota plant that just closed down recently was union-based. In fact, the first thing that Toyota did when it purchased the plant from Ford, was to re-hire all the Union organizers and troublemakers that Ford had purged, then fly them to Japan so that they would work in the Japanese plants themselves, and fly them back to their original plant so that they would become its new leadership.

          The reasoning of Toyota's management was that there was no way in hell that they could gain the trust

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by definate (876684)

        I agree. Monopolies [wikipedia.org] / Oligopolies [wikipedia.org] / Cartels [wikipedia.org] are awesome. They succeed by having overwhelming market power, and enforcing a determined price/quantity/benefits/etc, regardless of the externalities, or the true value of their goods/services. This is why OPEC [wikipedia.org] and De Beers [wikipedia.org] are so great, and why everybody loves them. Really, I think we all know, that you're goods/services are not worth what other people would pay for them, but instead are worth whatever you can collude to make them pay. That's the true spirit tra

  • Unions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:21PM (#33705462) Homepage

    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:35PM (#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.
  • Unicorns? (Score:3, Funny)

    by iamvego (785090) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:24PM (#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."
  • by tommeke100 (755660) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:28PM (#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?"
  • by Jason Pollock (45537) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:39PM (#33705556) Homepage

    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.

    • by Anaerin (905998) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:03PM (#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.
      • In the US it varies (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:31PM (#33705960)

        Some states allow for that kind of thing. "Right to work states," have less employee protections in general (you are usually at will) but also less union protection. You can work a job that has a union, but not be a member and all that. However a number of states, in particular those with big unions with lots of power, are not that way. You are required to join the union that represents you, like it or no, if you work in a given field.

        In some cases it is technically legal not to be a member but impossible as a practicality because the union forces places not to hire non-union workers.

        This is part of the reason why you see so much ill will towards unions from some in the US. Many of them, in particular the larger ones, have a "Our way or the highway," situation. If you work in an industry they control, you have to be a member and play by their rules. That leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 16K Ram Pack (690082)

        But actually, the theatre and broadcasting unions, by virtue of the fact that they'll use their power to walk out if someone hires non-union staff create the equivalent of a closed shop. Try and get a job on the West End stage without an Equity card.

        Of course, the effect of unions in the US is that a lot of productions are done elsewhere. Tarantino shot most of Kill Bill in China. The crew worked 6 days a week rather then 5 (so production could be quicker) and the crew cost was about half of the US.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by BasilBrush (643681)

          You don't know what you are talking about. There are lots of non-equity actors working in the west end. As you might expect, their average pay is far less than the Equity actors. But they are certainly there, working. In the UK, it's illegal for unions to mount industrial action to exclude non-union workers. So it could not be otherwise.

          Did you know before Equity flexed it's muscles in the industry, actors were not paid for rehearsals? Weeks of work with not a penny to show for it. If there ever was an ind

  • Meh. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:02PM (#33705698)
    We already have a reasonably good Hobbit movie. Sure, it's animated, but it will do.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:13PM (#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?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CodeBuster (516420)

      Did they object during the first 3 films?

      They probably would have had they known about it or how known how popular the trilogy would become. However, Jackson very astutely filmed all three films simultaneously over a period of 8 years before the first film was even released. So by the time the Unions knew that some crazy little project in New Zealand was going to become the biggest and highest grossing trilogy of all time, most of the shots, minus editing and special effects, where probably already in the can. In other words, by the time they knew

    • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @07:22PM (#33706378)
      The union in NZ was apparently abandoned. They didn't file necessary paperwork, so it ceased to exist. Now, when something big is going to be filmed in NZ, they are requiring that an NZ production file proper paperwork in Australia. The NZ production company rightly stated that was not strictly legal (legal to sign, but not binding to anyone, so quite pointless). The Australian company pressed the US company to make it a union issue. If the union had properly maintained its NZ presence, this wouldn't be an issue. Peter Jackson isn't trying to block the union. There doesn't exist any he can sign with.

      Many of the NZ actors are unionized, but the union doesn't exist in NZ. It's that problem that's causing the issues. The union existed in NZ for the first films, so there was no problem. The union disappeared between then and now.

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