Neopets… it’s a card game I don’t play, but I am one friend removed from a few people who work there. Word has long gotten around that the pay there for artists is less than stellar; even though the company has long since left start-up status behind, artists salaries are far below a Los Angeles living wage. So Neopets artists have recently voted to unionize with the Local 839. Neopets apparent response? Post an advertisement for artist positions in Singapore. Whether this is an earnest step towards moving their operations overseas, business as usual or an anti-union ploy remains to be seen, but it has brought up a controversy that has been plaguing the union for the last five years: in an age when studios have all of the power, are they still relevant for the younger generation?
The union can’t force studios to continue to work in traditional animation it’s true. And the union isn’t there to hand out jobs either, although it’s not outrageous that local artists would wonder how much help they can really be when there is no work to be had. They question if the guild is worth $2K a year in dues. They don’t see the offering of a pension as very enticing when they can’t find employment to start with. But here is my question for the union: why are so many people still surprised to find out that so much of the industry has gone overseas at the expense of so much talent? Given that they can’t stop it from happening, what is the union’s responsbility when it comes to informing the general public? When web searches look up topics like “animation going overseas”, they shouldn’t be bringing up my website, they should be bringing up the guild’s. More on the issue