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Sept 3rd, 2007 Mon -Labor Day
September 3rd, 2007

This is Labor Day, yet it’s more than just a hot Summer day to barbeque and listen to pundits analyze Big Labor’s possible effects on next year's national elections. It’s a time to think about what labor means to you and me as animators.

A wise person once said “ it’s not called show-art, it’s show business!” Be an artist by all means, but never forget we are in a business for which we get paid and make a living. For all of us who like to make cartoons, there are plenty of people who want to get rich off you while you make cartoons. And those people who want your talents without respecting your right to earn a living, are not truly your friends or friends of Animation, no matter how nice they may sound or how exciting their project may be.

The great men and women of our business built the art of animation from a few experimental optical tricks to a multi-billion dollar business that entertains millions.
But they left us something else. They risked their livelihoods and reputations to build us unions so artists can demand a fair shake from their corporate overlords. If you think a union has no place in your life as an artist, then you have been successfully conned by the government-corporate media.

And we believe everything the government-corporate media tell us, don’t we, boys & girls?

Animator Art Babbitt is getting a Disney Legends Award posthumously this year.

Truth is, there has been a war on organized labor in America since 1980. Back then 27 % of America was union labor, over 55% of us had medical insurance and for every dollar you made your employer made $29. Today union membership is down to 8%, for every dollar you make your boss makes $365 dollars and over 47 million people have no health insurance at all. Which means if you lose your drawing fingers in a car door or need a major operation, you might as well go on Welfare. You’re finished. And talent has nothing to do with it. Mozart, Vermeer and Rembrandt died poor. I knew many of the old artists in retirement who created Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo and Donald Duck. Most of them said without their union pension to supplement their social security they would really be in trouble by now.

The Hollywood animators have The Animation Guild, Local 839, which has an employer paid health insurance that is the envy of LA. Doctors drop to their knees in gratitude when they see your insurance. NY had good insurance when they had Local 841, but that went away in 1985. I don’t know what the situation has been since I relocated. I listen to many artists brag to me about how their companies have great health insurance, but that only lasts as you stay there, or they don’t send your job overseas.

Bart Simpson, SAG member, WGA member, TAG839 member, and somehow is still making a profit.

And the fact is, most companies don’t’ stay around long enough for you to retire. The Termite Terrace guys in 1969 got no retirement package from Warners, the Tom & Jerry guys in 1957 got no long term retirement package from MGM. They got a check, then a pink slip, and thanks for the memories. Hanna Barbera, UPA, once mighty factories employing hundreds, are now just memories. Walt Disney’s is the only studio that’s kept its’ doors open steady since 1923.

But the animators and their union go on.

So if you have a union, support it and contribute time to it. If you don’t have one, find out how to form one. If your employer doesn’t want one, ask them why? His recording actors are all SAG, his writers are WGA, his editors and post artists are all IATSE. Why not you? If you support political causes, if you support a Church, if you support your community, why not then do something for the industry that supports you? Do something for your animation community.
That’s a better way to celebrate Labor Day than grilling some Polish dogs.


The holiday was thanks to AF of L leader Samuel Gomper's convincing President Grover Cleveland that America needed a day to honor working people without the lefty- radical politics of May Day. And besides, there were no good holidays inbetween the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. So Labor Day was born in 1894. Shortly after signing the bill President Cleveland ordered U.S. troops to shoot down striking railroad workers.

Birthdays: Alan Ladd, Irene Papas, Memphis Slim, Eddie Stanky, Mort Walker the creator of Beetle Bailey, Mitzi Gaynor, Richard Tyler, Eileen Brennan, Valerie Perrine, Charlie Sheen is 42

1592- Retired London actor Richard Green wrote a letter to his fellow actors complaining of a newcomer becoming popular in their midst "A new upstart crow filled with Bombast" - Master William Shakespeare.

1777- In a small skirmish with British redcoats near Cooch, Maryland the American rebels raise their new Stars & Stripes banner for the first time in battle.
They are quickly defeated.

1833- The New York Sun began publication, the first mass circulation newspaper in the U.S..

1886- Geronimo gives up to the U.S. Army for the fourth and last time. He and his Chiracaua Apaches were promised no retribution would befall them. After they were disarmed they were packed up into railroad cars and shipped to prison in Ft. Myers, Florida to die in the malaria infested swamps. Geronimo in his time had as many Apache enemies as cavalry. The White Mountain Apaches helped guide the US cavalry in their pursuit. After Geronimo's Chiracaua's were exiled the White Mountain Apache were rewarded by also being transported to the Florida everglades. Geronimo survived all and after his release he retired to Santa Fe where he died in 1910.

1912- Los Angeles attraction Frazier's Million Dollar Pier destroyed by fire.

1930- The first issue of the Hollywood Reporter.

1937- Orson Welles Mercury Theater of the air produced its first play on nationwide radio- an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Mierables.

1939- Britain and France declare war on Nazi Germany over the invasion of Poland, World War Two results.

1939- British Prime Minister Chamberlain's war announcement interrupts a Disney Cartoon "Mickey's Gala Premiere" showing on the nascent BBC television service. Television shuts down for the duration.

1944- During the World War Two U.S. pilots shot down by the Japanese were rescued by submarines. The submariners called the pilots Zoomies. This day off the coast of Ichi Jima the submarine USS Tampico plucked out of the ocean a Zoomie who would one day be President of the United States. Second Lieutenant George Bush Sr.

1946- After the War, the BBC television service resumes and an announcer says:" Well now, where were we?" They continue the Mickey cartoon from where it was interrupted in 1939. World War Two probably held back for a decade the development of television.

1950- Mort Walker's "Beetle Bailey" comic strip first appeared.

1960- The Hanna-Barbera show 'Lippy the Lion and Hardy-Harr-Harr" premiered.

1967-Last broadcast of the game show What's My Line. Host John Daley led a panel of NY columnists and socialites in whitty banter- Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgalen, Kitty Carlisle-Hart and Henry Morgan. Well....I'm going to turn over all the cards now...

2003- Two crooks in Detroit hijacked a Krispy Kreme truck and tried to hold three thousand donuts hostage.