Pixar’s Ed Catmull Emerges As Central Figure In The Wage-Fixing Scandal

Ed Catmull. (Photo-illustration.)

Pixar and Disney Animation president Ed Catmull has always had a reputation as a decent person, but newly revealed court documents show that he’s been working against the interests of Pixar’s employees for years, as well as trying to hurt other animation studios who didn’t play by his rules. The documents in question are from last year’s civil class-action suit against high-tech companies. (The lawsuit, which included Pixar and Lucasfilm as defendants, was the result of a 2010 U.S. Department of Justice anti-trust action.)

Catmull’s deposition and emails from the lawsuit confirm that he was instrumental in operating a secret wage-theft cartel that violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. But it’s even worse than you think. The cartel orchestrated in large part by Catmull robbed potential wages and job opportunities from thousands of animation industry workers at other studios, including DreamWorks, Lucasfilm, Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers, the now-defunct Orphanage, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Pando Daily’s Mark Ames published a piece about the documents earlier this week. Ames followed up today with another hard-hitting piece about Catmull’s callous disregard for the law in the name of profit.

Catmull’s attempts to bring Sony into his cartel are documented in today’s piece. When Sony was first starting up their animation studio to produce Open Season, they actively recruited artists from Pixar. Their actions were both fair and legal, and benefitted employees whose wages and benefits could increase by moving to Sony. Catmull’s response to Sony, however, was illegal.

He flew to Los Angeles in 2004 to meet with Sony’s animation co-presidents Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandy Rabins and pressure them to fix their employees’ wages and limit career opportunities. (Another bombshell: John Lasseter was both aware of and supported some of Catmull’s illegal activities.) Sony, to their credit, declined to participate in the wage-fixing syndicate and continued to recruit freely.

Catmull, however, didn’t forget. In 2007, after Pixar had been purchased by Disney, he told Disney Studios president Alan Bergman and Disney’s head of HR, Marjorie Randolph, that he hoped other studios in his cartel would punish Sony:

“Just this last week, we did have a recruiter working for ILM [Lucasfilm] approach some of our people. We called to complain and the recruiter immediately stopped. This kind of relationship has helped keep the peace in the Bay Area and it is important that we continue to use restraint.

“Now that Sony has announced their intentions with regard to selling part of their special effects business, and given Sony’s extremely poor behavior in its recruiting practices, I would feel very good about aggressively going after Sony people.”

Catmull was questioned about the email in his deposition:

Q: You were cheering on somebody else to go after Sony?

CATMULL: I was pissed at them. That is true.

As Catmull and other Pixar honchos and Disney got richer and richer during the CG feature animation boom, the employees’ salaries at Pixar and beyond were being artificially controlled through illegal means. With these documents, we now know that DreamWorks and Disney also undermined free market principles by colluding to restrict their employees’ wages and job opportunities. These revelations extend beyond the scope of the class-action suit, which is in the process of being settled with a paltry $9 million slap on the wrist for Pixar and Lucasfilm.

Studios like DreamWorks and Disney are union outfits, and the Animation Guild, which represents animators, has stated on Twitter that they “are consulting legal counsel to see what can be done.” The Guild’s business representative Steve Hulett hasn’t minced words, writing on their blog that “when a group of wealthy executives get together to make sure that market forces don’t perform as they might, well, people suffer. (Mostly people that have to pay rent and meet a mortgage.)”

Pando Daily has promised more coverage of the animation wage-theft cartel.


  • Copper

    Man.. Of all people, I would never have expected this from Ed Catmull… This is going to give me trust issues.

  • GW

    I read about this a year or two ago. With Sony Pictures outsourcing to Canada, Blue Sky’s the only decent major studio left for American animation professionals.

    • http://desenhaascoisatudo.tumblr.com Pedro Henrique Mendes

      Outsourcing is not as bad as what they’re doing.

  • josh

    I’m reading Ed’s book now and was coming away thinking, “Finally, we have a hero, a man for the people, in a place of power in Hollywood.” Wow. This just shatters my opinion of him and Lasseter. Please don’t let Docter have known..

    It seems their mindset is that ultimately the movies are more important than the people working there. Sad.

    • Innocence_stolen

      I was foolish and naive to think that these “friends of the artists”, these “animation industry leaders” were anything but lousy, greedy f#cks who bent down to the almighty dollar.

      These people were MY heroes – they where my role models. They were admired. They were. Were. Were. Were.

      They are not anymore.

    • skywryter

      Money is the product. Films are the excreta. Artists are considered mere catalysts (preferably inert) for the egos of the powerful.

    • Sarah Jaston

      Damn. These are my exact thoughts. I just finished reading his book, too, and now I can’t even express my disappointment. What a shame

  • Amed

    This is just disgusting. I am appalled at the actions shown here. A slap on the wrist? Thats all they get, meanwhile others (the hardworking people) of course have to suffer whilst the fat cats get fatter? Wicked minded and reprehensible!!

  • Chris Powell

    This absolutely infuriates me and breaks my heart.

  • Anonymous

    Just wait until the news comes out that all the high-ups at Pixar are cheating on their wives.

    • Ace

      Really? That’s you definition of an equalizer? I don’t care who these guys fuck as long as its not me.

      • skywryter

        If you’ve worked there, they’ve already enjoyed that pleasure.

  • Ken Martinez

    Is this still happening? Now that this has been made public, are Disney and Dreamworks going to be allowed to continue doing this with impunity in the future?

    A commensurate punishment is probably not in the cards, but it’s even worse if this will continue to be the norm.

  • anon farts

    lot of my friends at pixar were making far lower wages for the type of work they were doing, although, I always assumed it was a “everyone wants to work here so lets pay them less”. but I guess there was more to that story sadly.

  • Amed

    HE NEEDS TO STEP DOWN, just like politicians and those figures who have power get caught. NO REST FOR THE WICKED! We have struggling artists trying to make it and these leaders are making it harder to earn a living? I am just in disbelief. Of course they would be people still who stand behind him and his actions, thats the worst thing.

    • Innistrader

      Pixar and the entire Jobs-iverse have been sickening cults of personality for decades; it’s not surprising that people who think of these subversive criminals as gods based on their self-published propaganda will defend them – it’s what those people were engineered to do.

  • Dylan Claus

    This is so disappointing…. :(

  • Disappointed in Catmull

    It’s hard to understand how the executives like Ed Catmull named in these documents are still in their positions. Has this affected morale at these studios? Knowing your bosses lied to you and held your wages down can’t be a positive thing. They broke the law. They knew they were acting illegally and against the best interest of their employees. Same for HR and recruiting. How can employees trust these people any more? What have these companies said internally about all this to their people? “Sorry”? Shareholders (regardless of the profit reaped), or whoever has the power, should send these guys packing.

    • Innistrader

      They won’t be touched. They have the most powerful political and economic connections known to man. Retaliating against them in any way from a position of lesser power would be suicidal and insane; and so their con will continue; blessed by the authority of the central bank and their paid stooges in the federal, state, and local governments.

  • akira

    uh, free market means you can take a job or quit whenever you like. why wouldn’t you want workers as cheap as you can get them? this is another big no news story, but once again great job sensationalizing!

    • AmidAmidi

      I know I read in some piece that the recruiters for the companies in the cartel wouldn’t hire you even if you’d quit another studio. They’d wait until a certain amount of time had passed to make sure you didn’t benefit financially. Sinister stuff all around.

    • Amed

      This is news, for those in the animation world. Don’t shoot the messenger, Amid just bringing the news. Sheesh

    • JohnnyHaze

      Akira, apparently you didn’t get the gist of this story: these a$$holes were interfering with the “free market” vis-a-vis their worker’s wages; they were fixing the marketplace value of their employees’ labor. So what’s the point of a worker quitting, when the competition has colluded to keep your pay down?

      FYI: The marketplace isn’t really “free”, as there are regulations and restrictions on business and trade — though not nearly enough.

    • https://twitter.com/spitandspite @spitandspite

      I think that’s the point. These weren’t free market mechanisms being allowed to work. You can’t rig a marketplace and then term one aspect of it “free” because it coincides with one ideal of a (personal opinion here) already-flawed economic model.

      Mandatory internet comment over simplification:
      I have a bike that has wheels. Don’t make it car.
      People wanted and got/get cheaper labor. Don’t make it a free market.

      Side note:
      Pixar was notorious for low wages (compared to other qualified artist doing the same task as same level in other companies) but I also, as another commenter stated, chalked it up to the desire of people wanting to work for the brand Pixar really bad. I mean, its PIXAR! Sucks there was another motivation behind that fact.

      I don’t have any personal vibe (bad or good) for catmull so I’m not as devastated but I experienced something like this back, say 10 years ago, between one of my first employers and RnH. The producers were buds and calls were made back and forth to make sure talent wasn’t plucked so an artist (not me I assure you) lost out on a big gig at RnH for a 1 week extension @ the smaller studio.

      This was 10 years back. I always just figured this was part of the way the industry worked to insure projects delivered and stayed on budget.

    • ASlicedLake

      akira, you don’t understand the problem. If you work for one of these companies, you *can’t* quit and take a job whenever you like, because these companies won’t hire you if you work/worked for one of the others… and if you’re an animator you don’t have a lot of choices for places to work.

      • Paul N

        There are plenty of places to work, as long as you don’t have feature film studio tunnel-vision…

    • Noela

      Hey guys, I found Ed Catmull

    • dantes342

      It’s literally the EXACT OPPOSITE of free market. Try reading it a few more times.

      • Leroy

        It literally not the exact opposite of the free market. In a free market, employees who so desire are able to start their own studio if they aren’t satisfied with their wages. Obviously, this requires capital, but collusion between companies to depress wages does not violate free market principles per se.

        • dantes342

          How is collusion not in violation of free market principles? It eliminates competition from a key part of the equation — labor. It’s not a real free market anymore if laborers don’t have the agency to go for a better deal, is it? As for ‘just starting your own studio’, that’s as silly as saying that grasshoppers can move higher up in the food chain by just starting to eat lions.

      • Leroy

        It literally not the exact opposite of the free market. In a free market, employees who so desire are able to start their own studio if they aren’t satisfied with their wages. Obviously, this requires capital, but collusion between companies to depress wages does not violate free market principles per se.

    • Jackadullby

      Got a monopoly? Hey, it’s a free market!
      Wage fixing? Hey, it’s a free market!
      Quick-on-the-draw and feel like eliminating competition with a firearm? No problem.. It’s free market economics at work!
      Worried about manmade climate change? Just let the free market do it’s thing and that’ll fix it!

      Why let ethics screw with a free market? If only those lefties would quit their whining and get out of the way of the money already!!

  • DangerMaus

    Doesn’t surprise me. We’ve had 30 years of these kinds of people coring out every Western economy and destroying the financial and job security of millions of workers in the U.S, Canada. What makes these pricks any different?

    When Verhoeven made “Robocop” he was ridiculing the excesses, greed, stupidity and venality of the Executive class; however, a whole generation of people didn’t seem to get the joke and decided that snorting coke off the back of hookers and acting in ethically reprehensible ways looked like way too much fun: so much fun that they decided they wanted to be just like Verhoeven’s executives, rather than their anti-thesis.

    • snooky

      ‘We’ve had 30 years of these kinds of people coring out every Western economy and destroying the financial and job security of millions of workers in the U.S, Canada. ‘

      try the Federal Reserve, they are THE only ones truly coring out every economy, here and overseas, every bit of money you have is vanishing because of them…yet the gooberment acts like it protects people, and people feel like it protects them…it borders upon comical if it weren’t so sad and true!

      • ibawl

        Corporate apologist.

      • ibawl

        Corporate apologist.

  • skywryter

    Catmull definitely belongs in Club Fed for his crimes. Highly unlikely, however; We’ll probably have to settle for these transcripts of him rubbing his greasy hands, shitting on his own reputation and legacy. These revelations should be no surprise to those of us with Disney experience. Pixar is now a ‘mature’ institution. In other words, it is now as corrupt and dehumanizing as any other large corporate ‘person’ whose amazingly convenient religious convictions demand blood sacrifice. -other people’s blood. Other people’s sacrifice.

  • Ant G

    The worst is in those emails he shows he absolutely values his employees; admitting he was pissed that Sony would dare try to take away the talent behind those movies. But hypocritically he doesn’t think those talents deserve what Sony was willing to give them or more. Modern day Slavery. Why he still has his job or why are we not hearing an uproar from Pixar employees baffles me.

    I hope at least I can stop hearing college students say it’s their dream to work at Pixar, and so glad this was exposed; evil people should not deserve to take their sins all the way to their graves (looks like Steve Jobs got lucky) expose them all.

    • Turf

      Funny thing is people never seem to remember that what’s done behind closed doors doesn’t stay behind closed doors. Even when you’re dead there is no escape. We all have skeletons some larger than others. When you play with people as pawns those same pawns eventually will be your demise.

      • Jonathan Jean-Louis

        Precisely!
        -the green mouse from Ratatoing

    • Copper

      Yeah… It has been my dream to work at Pixar ever since I saw Monster Inc. when I was 11. Now I’m not so sure, I have some thinking to do I guess.

      • Jessica

        Same for me; when I saw Monsters Inc, I finally knew what I wanted to do with my life: work in the animation industry at Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney, and more recently, Lucasfilm Animation. It crushes me to know that this has been going on, orchestrated by people I admired, if it is indeed true. Gotta rethink my future, I guess.

        • Jonathan Jean-Louis

          Sorry to break your heart, Jess, but that scandal is most certainly true.

      • gettingOutaHand

        Funny how a lot of people are just discarding working at what is still a great job, at a great studio surrounded by some of the most talented people in the globe, due to this. yea it sucks, yes the pay should be better. but what now? everybody is just going to become an independent director/studio? will the oppressed assemble into a studio by artist for the artists…. no. Regardless of what a lot of people say.. if a job offer came from any of these studios.. most will cry tears of joy.. unless you are a very seasoned veteran of the industry with the capabilities of being self sustainable, most people will trade in their 20k-30k freelance gigs for 60k+ salaried jobs with benefits. I hate the wage fixing as much as the next guy but I am beginning to despise the flaming from so many people because the true reality is that most of the people who have condemned Disney/Pixars would go back on their word in a heart beat. People should be honest and people have every right to be upset.. but all these shattered dream comments are just pathetic. to be mature and professional enough to admire someones legacy but go against their current practices is OK! Hell in this day and age when ever any news break out, people immediately take sides.. not everything in life is an ultimatum.

    • Paul N

      He may value his employees, or he may be thinking about the costs associated with replacing anyone who jumps ship (the hiring process is not cheap, especially in a specialized field).

      • Taco

        Ex-f###ing-actly! The biggest cost to any company is it’s people (their wages). But the Biggest ASSET to any company is it’s people (their Talents & time given).

        Pay Fairly & Play Fairly Edd, that’s all you need to do. Everything else about the man, his inspiration by W. Edward Deming’s philosophies, encouraging worker autonomy, of understand fractal randomness & the constant struggle in creating good products & giving workers a sense of pride in their work. All of this is inspired. But if Ed Catmull really wants to know how to control his costs & get to a 12000 ‘person week’ movie budget at Pixar… then he needs to be honest & transparent with your workers & their remuneration.

        Your workers can’t just live off the pride in their work Edd… when your top directing animators are complaining about the prices of houses and living costs in the bay area it makes absolutely no sense that you wouldn’t try to look after them & their interested as well, and not just your own.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

    • uncleMasta

      Slavery? Let’s not get out of hand.

      The other companies actively trying to sway employees was the (illegal) agreement. This is indeed wrong. But, employees were free to (and often did) leave. That’s fairly far from slavery, even modern day.

    • chrisherself

      Admitting he’s pissed doesn’t tell me he values his employees. It tells me he thinks of his employees as his possessions, rather than as fellow humans who would like to decide their own course in life.

  • Amed

    His assets should be frozen; the animators should receive reparations for this ungodly act. So not cool

  • Roasted_Pork

    Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it. It IS disappointing to see these people become the very people that I am sure they never intended to become. You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain

    • supernova

      this is no surprise to me being primarily a conservative animator. The free market and capitalist principles are not that hard to navigate. Im a little older, mid 40′s, and MTV was the Pixar back then of places to work if you were doing cool visuals… people would work for free practically… so the pixar thing I understand. Especially for young out of school talent… but this INFURIATES me. This is not a problem of capitalism… they f-d with capitalism and artists, besides myself and a few others who grew up conservative, most artists are naive emotionally driven types… I ‘was’ but I totally used my talents to move up in my career by jumping to the next place that wanted me more…. but that was post production and motion graphics. Animation… but not the character driven beautiful work being done by Pixar and the others…. they won’t speak up because its not slavery… its more like communism… communism lectures its people that life is good and nothing better exists outside of our utopia… the UNION is who is to blame now… individuals should have power, but the union negotiates the terms of contracts and they got their asses handed to them. All involved should demand their union dues back!! Unions are a cancer to creatives. Each of us is talented… but for Gods sake were not all putting bolts onto pieces of metal… the same thing… each of us had an AMERICAN right to get the most for our talents and if our employer won’t do it… we can shop around. THIS obviously destroyed that huge aspect of things. Were talking hundreds of millions of dollars that should be won in a lawsuit and given back to the staffs of these companies. Im not a cynical conservative… not all ceo;s are evil… but when we CATCH THEM they NEED to pay! Trust and confidence is everything. I wish my experience could spread to a lot of these artists… there is a demand for talented animators in A LOT more creative industries OTHER than film… but I here people sadly, to me, say “where can they go?” OMG… with world class talent where can you go??? give me 3 of these artists and ill open a post production creative boutique that would pay them all DOUBLE what they make now and more creative control etc…. these artists need to educate themselves on being entrepreneurs, and how to monetize their talents. I avoided the lure of these studios and always wonder what if…. but I’m happy animating and creating commercials and promos for tv networks… I pray these awesome talents get their true value financially, and also feel free to take that talent of theirs wherever it may roam… jack asses… Catmull… etc… ughhhh

      • Paul N

        Pixar is non-union.

  • Greg Boone

    Oh this is a goshdarned shame! The bastions of liberal media and entertainment and computing stooping to these sinister lows and without conscience? Can’t blame Michael Eisner for this now can you? What did Spielberg and Gates know? Did Marvel Entertainment know this stuff was going on? Us shareholders? At least Director Eric Holder’s staff at the Dept. of Justice came through where others feared to tread. We should all send him and his staff letters of thanks!

  • conner

    I’m interested in knowing that, after this, will Pixar continue to practice this conspiracy and if they do, is there anything the employees can do about it?

  • Di$ney

    Well on the bright side Disney now owns Lucasfilm so I’m pretty sure this sorta thing will no longer affect the Bay Area studios…

    • RCooke

      and yet apparently the head of Pixar Jim Morris (former head of Lucasfilm) and most of their human resources staff were poached from Lucasfilm before.

  • Van

    In other news, Sony Pictures just announced new feature called Pirates of Animation Valley. Starring Gary Oldman as Ed Catmull.
    On a more serious note, what I want to hear is MORE Pixar, Disney, DWA, and other affected artists speak out. Post anonymously if you fear retribution but don’t let your voices be silent about this travesty. Don’t be homers and lean on loyalty. Fooled once by Lasseter, shame on him. Fooled again by Ed Catmull, shame on you. Speak up peeps!

  • slowtiger

    It surprises me a bit how much people are surprised by this. I assume every CEO being in it only for the money, and maybe play dirty as well.

    What really annoys me is that stories like this never hit the screen. I’ve been complaining a lot recently about the off-worldly quality of animation storytelling, keeping the ugly face of realism out of cinemas. So the topic of working or broken capitalism isn’t brought up, and of course heaven forbid we ever tell a story were the workers win over the shareholders. No, it’s always the animals of the forest all being good friends in the end, everyone can live his dream, you can make it if you try hard enough, money doesn’t make you happy, and other myths spoon-fed to the audience.

  • thecheshire

    Jeez kids, what did you expect, Charlie’s Chocolate Factory? It’s business, it’s companies and Catmull/Lasseter/Katzenberg have done their work to keep in business and this way probably created more employment for artists than there ever was before. Come on, how many kids out there on the internet would work their butts off for free to get a chance to work for Pixar? Quit that talk about villains and heros and over-idolising real world people. It’s not just them, it’s also our problem of becoming un-critical in the first place.

    • Christian Z.

      It’s illegal, immoral, unethical and, most tragically, unnecessary. And it really does underscore one of the main problems with our current society: the rich figuring out how to divert even more funds their way and telling the poor they just have to accept it. The problem is not capitalism; the problem is capitalism plus dishonesty (which many people think is pure capitalism, but it’s not). I always felt there was a certain smarminess to Pixar that I couldn’t completely put my finger on.

  • http://aarontmann.blogspot.com/ Aaron Mann

    I’m gonna go ahead and assume that paramount animation hasn’t been brought into this cartel since it seems as though one by one Disney artists are beginning to shake off the pixie dust and work over there.

  • Toonio

    Now it makes sense the move to go to the big white north. I know BC laxes in employee protection laws, and they condone unpaid overtime as “high tech employees” (let me know if you want a booklet Amid, its a fun read).

    On the bright side, I`m happy for all the artists getting some kind of redemption out of this, not to mention shutting the mouths of all the Disney-Pixar fans that burned those who dared to question their false idols.

  • http://aaandb.blogspot.com Aaron R.R.R. Nance

    Friends, I stand on the side of the artists don’t get me wrong and I don’t begrudge your angry response, but:

    I’m remain unconvinced that Catmull’s aims were to artificially depress wages so much as to retain their talent[admittedly still illegal but undeniably far less sinister]. I do know from reading his book that the Pixar execs would personally distribute bonus checks to each employee based on movie performance. I don’t know how much each employee received but my guess is that these bonuses were quite significant. I’d really love to get a Pixar insider’s take on this.

    I realize that even if his aim wasn’t to suppress wages that that was one side-effect of essentially establishing a gentleperson’s agreement not to poach talent. Catmull and Lasseter were building something great and struggling to hold it together. As I read this I don’t necessarily see his actions as motivated by greed but rather motivated by a fierce love for his company and desire to preserve and grow something special. I know not everyone loves Pixar but a great many would agree that Pixar is a special place and has managed to bottle and sell lightning.

    I’m not hearing comments urging restraint in judgment here and this saddens me. This story has more than one side and right now it feels as if we’ve only heard the most inflammatory side. Ultimately I stand on the side of the artists rights but I simply will not abandon my respect for Ed Catmull and what he has accomplished at pixar without first getting to hear his side. I still highly recommend reading his book. There are some excellent insights into how to nurture and encourage creativity in the workplace.

    • Jason

      Excellent insights like illegally colluding to depress wages? I don’t care if you’re ‘unconvinced’. The emails and documented interactions of Catmull himself quite literally state otherwise.

      Don’t turn your heroes into supermen.

      • http://aaandb.blogspot.com Aaron R.R.R. Nance

        If you read the book, which clearly I’d have an easier time convincing you to shove white-hot salad tongs up your ass, you’d have something that you clearly don’t care to: some insight into the other side of the story. I’m normally very forgiving of rudeness but reading your vitriolic comments have just rubbed me counter to the grain. You are speaking to other human beings who are entitled to their own opinions just as you are to yours.

        The quotes I’ve read dealing with wages are all given out of context and narrowly tailored to present one sensational side of the story. Catmull is the CEO of Pixar and as such he is responsible for managing the company, keeping it solvent, keeping everyone employed and ultimately producing a product that the world wants. His is a balancing act between keep the employees happy and the investors. I’m not making excuses for breaking the law, but I don’t think that Catmull made these decisions solely for his own benefit. If you read the book you’d get the very real sense that Catmull cares deeply about his people and his company. It is entirely possible that the book is propaganda specifically intended to plant doubt in our minds but it is also entirely possible that it simply genuine.

        Respect is not given, it is earned and opinions made in haste are generally the least interesting and least valuable.

        • Droobiedoo

          I’ve read the book. It’s a joke, especially since his so-called “management” practices seems to have led the company into a discouraging hole with layoffs, countless people leaving, for greener pastures, many director changes, and an unimaginative string of films that return less and less as more and more management is piled on probably at great cost. Sounds like Disney around 1996 or so. I have no doubt he cares about his legacy of Pixar but he sure comes across as severely out of touch in the court papers and the book.

        • Jason

          Wage fixing is illegal. This isn’t hard to understand. Catmull’s quotes are direct without any hyphens or quote separation. You keep talking about his book for some reason then get angry when I simply state what he’s done is illegal. I’m also not sure why you’re talking about white-hot salad tongs being inserted into anuses. Keep it on topic.

          I don’t care if I don’t have your respect. All I care about is artists being treated fairly.

        • Wouter

          He cares deeply about his company. Just not, it seems about the hundreds of people that work there and their families. A familiar pattern. There is no justification for this and I’m sure Catmull and the other CEO’s were aware of the results this sort of cartel would have. It’s criminal.

        • Ravlic

          Yeah, okay? Caring about someone does not mean you’re not a selfish ass. My father also cares about me. He’s also a parasite who would actively try to destroy my life if I’m not careful around him. Stop being naive. Most bad people don’t think they’re bad, that doesn’t make them good or any less deserving of a punishment.

    • Caitlin Cadieux

      This is openly admitted.

      “CATMULL: Well, them hiring a lot of people at much higher salaries would have a negative effect in the long-term.

      Q: On pay structure?

      CATMULL: Well, I’m just saying that if they — I don’t know what you mean by pay structure. The — for me I just — it means the pay. All right? If the pay goes way up in an industry where the margins are practically nonexistent, it will have a negative effect.”

    • Victor Vector

      You know, it’s really easy to keep other companies from poaching your talent. You pay employees what they’re worth. Problem solved.

      Take a step back and think like a businessman, not an artist for just a few moments.

    • AnimationGuy

      “I realize that even if his aim wasn’t to suppress wages that that was one side-effect of essentially establishing a gentleperson’s agreement not to poach talent. ”

      A ‘gentleperson’s’ agreement?
      Suppressing wages is a ‘gentleperson’s’ way of preventing poaching of talent?

      The whole ‘etiquette’ of non-poaching between competing companies is a sham anyway, it’s protection solely for the business, not the individual workers.
      They play on people’s moral to be ‘loyal’, except that it’s a one-way street for businesses; when they decide they don’t need you, you’re out the door in a heart beat, as we have witnessed time and again in the seasonal mass layoffs.

  • Tom

    This was a real scumbag move. I’m hoping for a major shakeup at Pixar and DW over this. What a creep.

  • Jason

    Can’t quit if the other studios are working together in not hiring you, broski!

    • akira

      uh i’ve seen articles on cartoon brew about former pixar people at other of the studios mentioned to be in cahoots with pixar. plus there are also other places that do animation. do you seriously think pixar on a resume is a bad thing? yes maybe according to this article but not in accordance with reality.

    • akira

      uh i’ve seen articles on cartoon brew about former pixar people at other of the studios mentioned to be in cahoots with pixar. plus there are also other places that do animation. do you seriously think pixar on a resume is a bad thing? yes maybe according to this article but not in accordance with reality.

  • Jason

    You’re adorable.

    It’s like you’re completely ignoring how the companies are colluding and instead focusing on ‘Pixar is da bestest’.

    You know, unions are also a result of the free market too? Crazy I know. Life isn’t 101 Community College Economics.

    • akira

      thanks for your first comment. but i never said anything about unions. what are you saying about unions? what’s illegal about trying to get other companies to not hire your employees? what’s the evidence that he actually stopped a hire?

      • Jason

        Management colluding prices – good

        Employees forming a union – double bad

        The evidence is in the article. They actively colluded to not hire from each other. Are you trolling? How is this difficult to understand?

      • dantes342

        Have you read the emails? I get the feeling that you haven’t.

  • Jason

    I know a guy with your same attitude that worked for a place for 10 dollars an hour. Have more respect for yourself and your craft.

  • Jason

    It’s everyone and yes it does change that. He may be a nice guy but his actions are not.

  • FormerVFX

    I wonder how many friends he’ll still have at Siggraph this year…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw89o7vH8o0

    • Jonathan Jean-Louis

      I don’t think that he will have any friends; he’ll only have a few friends, at maximum.

    • Jonathan Jean-Louis

      I don’t think that he will have any friends; he’ll only have a few friends, at maximum.

  • BluePencil

    Meanwhile in “little league” this also sounds like the a-holes at Reelfx in Texas.

  • guest person

    Except having Pixar on your resume does the opposite for your future opportunities, according to this article. If you leave a “cartel” studio, the others wont look twice at you. Its almost like being blacklisted. Its a huge disservice to artists who want nothing more than to make a living wage in the Bay Area.

  • scriptfoo

    Next up, lobbying efforts from an industry-related “grass-roots” coalition to overturn anti-trust laws arguing that it hurts businesses and destroys jobs.

  • William Bradford

    Well, I get that this is a bad precedent: and a bit rotten if they hidden profits from doing this is going right into there pockets. What I’m having trouble with is; what kind of regulations can you put in to stop this sort of thing? It’s like a big company putting gout a movie on dvd or theatre at a time that conflicts with a small studio trying to put out a film, thus depriving the smaller company of a chance to get audiences. ROTTEN… but how do you make it illegal?

    • dantes342

      It already is illegal, I believe.

      • Ken Martinez

        It could be punishable by the death penalty and mean nothing if the government doesn’t enforce it.

        And considering what the Supreme Court has ruled on recently, I don’t expect it to be illegal for much longer.

    • Innistrader

      The first line of defense would be having a government which isn’t in bed with the organized looting; campaigns funded by this mass robbery; who will never question their own friends and benefactors; which means a fundamental change to the organization of campaign funding. Any government which isn’t in the service of these thieves will be vigilant against them; but that means people being smart about who they elect for offices and what type of economy we have; one in which the central bank is naturally allied to a major economic sector and both collude with one another to implant people who will be puppets for their agenda is obviously dysfunctional.

      Make it illegal by removing the people who made it possible from positions of power.

  • KW

    If you think those DVD Special Features tours of Pixar are an accurate reflection of what its like to work there, you have a lot to learn or you might need to reconsider your career choice.

  • Tom

    I think this falls under the category of racketeering.

  • dantes342

    None of that works when the employers are in collusion with each other, which is the point of all this. You can idealize the ‘free market’ all you want, but it’s a fact that when companies become successful enough they begin to try and warp the market to their advantage, either through monopoly or collusion like this to depress wages. There is no ‘free market’, in other words — in the world we’re living in, that’s a fantasy.

  • Tom

    I can’t see how you’ve missed the whole point of this being a conspiracy, and that it’s illegal. Read the damned thing again and again until you get that.

  • Cuzsis

    Heh. Unless it’s Arrow.

  • ANIMCOOP

    This is EXACTLY why we, as talented, intelligent artists who have value need to band together and ditch the corporate structure that has defined American industry for years and forced us into stagnant waged, migratory lifestyles while our greedy corporate dictators have all the say and take all the winnings.

    We can manage ourselves, we can elect our leaders, we can make great movies, we can decide how to spend and re-invest the money we make from our labors, we can call the shots and make the terms. If we fall, we can fall together, not at the mercy of our self-interested leaders.

    No one should be foolish enough to believe that even WE as individuals wouldn’t be corrupted by the influence of power and money were we to be the CEO. It’s time to ditch the dictatorship and bring democracy to the animation work-place. We need to start forming worker self directed enterprises.

    • ike

      Oh, please, tell me more about your experience in running animation studios…

      • ANIMCOOP

        Clearly you either misread my post or didn’t understand it.

      • ANIMCOOP

        Clearly you either misread my post or didn’t understand it.

      • ANIMCOOP

        To have an animation WSDE, every worker(owner) doesn’t need to be qualified to run an animation studio. You simply need to know how to vote someone out of that roll who isn’t acting in the best interest of the studio and its workers(owners), and vote someone in who you think will.

        I’ve rarely seen an exec at an animation studio make bad decisions that weren’t obvious to the majority of the artists. If you don’t trust yourself to have a say in making those calls, then you can feel free to take up the cause to keep artists working for guys who conspire against their employees to maximize their own profit.

      • ANIMCOOP

        To have an animation WSDE, every worker(owner) doesn’t need to be qualified to run an animation studio. You simply need to know how to vote someone out of that roll who isn’t acting in the best interest of the studio and its workers(owners), and vote someone in who you think will.

        I’ve rarely seen an exec at an animation studio make bad decisions that weren’t obvious to the majority of the artists. If you don’t trust yourself to have a say in making those calls, then you can feel free to take up the cause to keep artists working for guys who conspire against their employees to maximize their own profit.

      • Ken Martinez

        Nice derail.

        It’s not like Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, or Walter Lantz, or Friz Freleng had any business acumen.. oh, wait.

      • Ken Martinez

        Nice derail.

        It’s not like Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, or Walter Lantz, or Friz Freleng had any business acumen.. oh, wait.

  • http://timbump.us/ Tim Bumpus

    Alright… What I’m about to say is going to sound extremely naive. And that’s likely because it is. But maybe some ideas deserve to be entertained, no matter how stupid, if one is to better understand the truth. Or not. Your call.

    Has it occurred to anyone that there might be other reasons to this than just fixing low wages? Pixar has always valued keeping one group of people together–a “family,” they’d call it–because that leads to better creative work from all of them. And we know that, we’ve all admired that. But the competitive culture of business in California can’t sustain that beautiful environment, of people growing through work with one another. People will be scouted and taken by other companies, and the groups will flounder and fall apart as the individuals move on. This is what happens in the high-level video game industry, where people rotate through jobs regularly as a fact of life, and to small startups, that are bought out or acquihired just as they were beginning to grow. People get pulled apart.

    The people at Pixar, like Ed Catmull, wanted to go against that system. They wanted a team that stuck together. And maybe this agreement is what that took. Sure, they could have just done it the right way and raised wages so high that no one would ever leave, but that’s unrealistic– they’d have to stop raising them at some point to stay floating, and other studios would still come to pounce.

    Keeping peoples’ wages artificially lower than what they deserve is despicable, and should not be taken lightly. That part of this story is true, and everyone involved here should be ashamed. The unfortunate truth for some is that people should have the right to leave your group, and thus no stability can ever be managed.

    I will admit that I too can have this hatred of change at times, of the reality of our autonomy that means that no matter how perfect the group, no matter how beautiful the harmony, someday one or all of those in it will bring it to an end. Maybe that’s how I can relate to this incident. Maybe that’s why my viewpoint is so skewed.

    The world may now accuse Ed Catmull and John Lasseter of being corrupted, hold them prime examples of how the flaws in our system will corrupt all who wield power within it. And the world could not be faulted. But there are other problems with the system than just this one– problems of competition pulling all of us this way and that way, regardless of others paths, just so that we might have just a little bit more.

    Or maybe I’m naive.

    • dantes342

      If they really wanted to ‘keep the family together’, the way to do it isn’t to cut secret deals with other companies while at the same time refusing to offer people who have families of their own a better, fairer deal.

      Why not trust people to ‘stay in the family’ if they so chose? People can turn down more money of their own volition if they have the opportunity to do something that they really believe in. It happens all the time.

      The irony is that now, it’ll be much harder to believe in a company after discovering that despite all the happy talk, they never really believed in you.

      • Jackadullby

        Precisely, as with any healthy relationship, it needs to be based on trust.

        Catmull et al seem not to have trusted the artists to do the right thing of their own volition, all-the-while forgetting that ‘Pixar’ ( as distinct from Pixar the corporate entity) belonged to the artists, not themselves. And it’s ‘Pixar’ that the audiences love.

      • Jackadullby

        Precisely, as with any healthy relationship, it needs to be based on trust.

        Catmull et al seem not to have trusted the artists to do the right thing of their own volition, all-the-while forgetting that ‘Pixar’ ( as distinct from Pixar the corporate entity) belonged to the artists, not themselves. And it’s ‘Pixar’ that the audiences love.

      • http://timbump.us/ Tim Bumpus

        That’s what the bottom line is, I guess. They should have trusted people. But that’s not what happened.

        For all my romanticizing of “the family” (or at least, what must look like romanticizing), there’s something practical to keeping people together, too… A closer, more creative team also means more money. We can’t know which was of higher importance, creativity or money, in any of these CEOs minds’. But we can make good guesses. =/

        It might bit of a stretch to say “they never really believed in you,” though. Otherwise they wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to keep you.

        I almost want to quote that line from The Dark Knight about dying a hero or living long enough to see yourself become a villain, but I fear I’d immediately lose all credibility. =) (Assuming I ever had credibility.)

        • Jackadullboy

          Oh, people are masters of rationalization. I’m sure the CEO’s aren’t bad people per say. I’m sure they managed to eliminate any cognitive dissonance by convincing themselves that what they were doing was right for both the Pixar and the animators, and furthermore that there was really no need to let the latter in on this wise and excellent strategy. There is a long history of this sort of thing between artists and their patrons.

          • http://timbump.us/ Tim Bumpus

            I know there is. I know I’m making excuses, I know everything I’m saying is coming out all wishy-washy. I just don’t like to see people hating other people, no matter the circumstances.

          • Jackadullboy

            I wouldn’t call it ‘hate’. People are angry. Sometimes it’s good for people to get angry… All real change starts with a change of consciousness. Think about the civil rights movement, the suffragettes, the GLBT movement etc, etc… All hard won, and not by being ‘nice’.

            It has to become more than a lot of bitching on social media though. People need to educate themselves about unions, organization, their rights, etc, and be willing to make time to form and attend meetings in person to discuss these things.

            A realization that there is an injustice is a start, but only a start.

    • Jason

      Sounds like you haven’t watched Cars yet.

      • http://timbump.us/ Tim Bumpus

        I watched Cars back when it was still in theaters. It’s in my top two Pixar movies, if not my favorite.

        The sequel was pretty bad, though.

        • Don

          Cars 2 was beneath Pixar. But it was about the money.

        • bob

          i couldn’t stand cars… for me that was the beginning of Pixar’s decline in story telling.

    • Innistrader

      They’re clearly primarily interested in witholding from anyone but their clique of high-level managers and stockholders any level of recompensation which would be dictated by normal market forces.

      You say they’re “trying to keep the family together”.

      I propose an alternative: they’re trying to keep their slaves from rebelling by not letting them get it into their heads that there might be better opportunities off the plantation.

    • http://timbump.us/ Tim Bumpus

      It’s worth noting that Dreamworks and other companies involved in this scandal were probably fond of these “stick together” conditions as well. I don’t mean to paint Pixar as alone in that.

    • chris

      “Sure, they could have just done it the right way and raised wages so high that no one would ever leave, but that’s unrealistic– they’d have to stop raising them at some point to stay floating, and other studios would still come to pounce.”

      It’s not unrealistic. Being able to keep talent together is called good management. And one doesn’t need to break the law to be a good manager.

    • chris

      “Sure, they could have just done it the right way and raised wages so high that no one would ever leave, but that’s unrealistic– they’d have to stop raising them at some point to stay floating, and other studios would still come to pounce.”

      It’s not unrealistic. Being able to keep talent together is called good management. And one doesn’t need to break the law to be a good manager.

      • http://timbump.us/ Tim Bumpus

        I was waiting for someone to call me out on that. To be honest, it’s not like I have any managerial experience (and I assume you don’t, either), but at the time of writing I’d figured the only way to keep people from leaving is to create an illegal pact that keeps people from leaving. You’re probably right, though– a healthy team is kept by really good management. It’s just a lot harder.

        • chris

          Not to pick on you here… But its not that I am “probably” right. I am right, period. What they did is against the law. As stated elsewhere in these comments, millions of companies manage to stay in business by playing by the rules and not breaking the law.

  • Robert Holmén

    The fabulous advantage of “at-will” employment that is so often recited
    to anyone who complains about layoffs or unpaid overtime or poor job
    security is that you are free to leave for a better offer when there is one.

    But now we find out that the Catmulls and the Jobs made sure those better offers wouldn’t happen for anyone who might be liable to get one.

    “Market forces for me but not for thee.”

  • Hal Jam

    While Sony refused to join back then, they did however join later, after getting themselves in trouble by paying high wages. It was common knowledge that you couldn’t tell Sony who your other offers were from because they would call up the studio you were talking to — thus cutting off any potential bidding war. (If you told them you had an offer they would ask from who? Often people naively told them.) How do I know Sony talked to other studios? Because their recruiter told me when I tried to negotiate! Pretty bold thing to do when you are breaking the law, which is exactly why these people need to go to jail.

  • Dusky

    As awful a thing as this was to have happened, is it really a surprise? But maybe this is how these studios are keeping their costs low enough so that these jobs stayed here in the U.S. as opposed to being sent overseas like everything else these days? This is going to sound terrible and jaded of me, but if it was between losing animation jobs overseas to wage fixing here, I would sadly support the latter. Studios sinking millions of dollars into a film that might flop is a huge risk, and with any industry it is to be expected that wages go up with competition. But is it sustainable within the animation industry? And with so many new hires on the horizon each year, studios can also easily dump more expensive employees for fresh and cheap new talent.

    • Innistrader

      That’s nothing a little trade protectionism can’t fix. Is freedom to outsource such a sacred cow amongst the little people that it musn’t be threatened? How and why? Consider that the primary activity of the profiteers in these industries is to exploit whoever is gullible enough to believe their lies and ask yourself why it couldn’t be done without their rackets concentrating the profits amongst themselves.

      The only reason the studio system persists is official corruption; corruption that makes it permissible for a company to do all of its hiring overseas and its profiteering here. It’s no less sustainable in the short term for artists to get the money that goes to corporate leeches; if anything it’s more sustainable since the money won’t be fleeing to tax shelters and instead growing individual wealth.

      Don’t be an apologist for a plantation system of technical workers because you’re unable to conceive of a system that isn’t based on exploitation.

    • Jiff

      There’s a reason it’s illegal. Things are bad enough with corporate practices without starting to pass off breaking the law as “just business.”

  • ed and john to jail

    Yes Ed has said many times that he doesn’t like Unions and they are bad for the employees. Now we know why when he said Employees he means the people in power

  • X_Capt_Obvious_X

    The period for the class case is 2005 through 2009, I believe. The experienced talent pool was a bit smaller back then. As far as how many people it affects? Since this also includes Adobe, Apple, Intel, Google, et. al., the total number has been mentioned around 64,000.

  • Alyosha

    As an artist in the industry, this is highly disappointing to me. I looked up to Catmull and Lasseter’s achievements, but my respect for both has been significantly harmed. That said, I can’t say that artists aren’t necessarily asking for this. What this means is that we, as a whole, need to take a stand for our wages. We need to demand (in sincere, respectful, but firm terms) higher wages. The studios make millions from our creations. We should have a greater share in that. Also, if you’re not asking for more and are allowing yourself to get paid less, then you are agreeing to be part of an environment that will impact other artists (especially younger ones) by creating an atmosphere of depressed wages.

    I would like to also point out that these wage depressions affect not only artists in the Bay area, but artists elsewhere (Canada and India to name a few), as budgets for productions in these places (often farmed out from LA) are based off of pay expectations related to the wages in the Bay area. That is, if Bay area artists are paid more money, artists elsewhere will be paid more money as well. All of this also obviously affects the families of these artists, not just the artists themselves.

    Lastly, let this be a wake up call for us to boldly leave the large studios and together create smaller more dynamic studios. These places can aim to be innovative, fresh, quality-focused, and financially equitable to artists. Studios by artists, for artists. We need more original content in this industry anyway. As it stands, almost all of Western animation consists of toy commercials in various formats.

    • Power_Animator

      This is the best most proficient comment so far!! I just hope it doesnt fall on deaf ears.

    • Diana Lee

      Actors did this in the days of Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. They called their new Studio “United Artists”.

  • CaJd554

    That’s pretty silly, and certainly not true–nor ever will be, 10 years or not. Audiences don’t care about hand drawn or cg. They care about being entertained. CG isn’t any cheaper, but it does allow for easier story changes late in the game when necessary-something hand drawn animation can’t efficiently do.

    I love hand drawn animation. I’m glad there’s so much of it out there to see.

    • Jonathan Jean-Louis

      Exactly.

  • ILoveKaiju

    Yup…Modern day slavery with all those beatings and stuff they get. I mean a mere 80k a year to live off of? How dare those slave lords. I’m with you. Getting paid a living wage to animate vs some crappy desk job you hate for minimum wage…News flash folks….animation ain’t hard work. Digging ditches is hard work. Mouse clicks and typing is not hard work. While it takes talent and is a form a work it is in no way slave labor. Try being a construction worker. That being said….this is so wrong to do that type of stuff. I hate greedy people. They are not satisfied with being rich. They have to be super rich. I don’t make sense.

    • kinokochan

      I am sick of seeing people devalue creative/tech work just because it doesn’t involve manual labor. It’s not comparable. It’s an entirely different field, with different advantages/disadvantages.

      Here. Educate yourself on what it means to work in tech:
      http://stilldrinking.org/programming-sucks

    • Annoyed

      Your comments really annoy me. I dont see people who dig ditches train multiple years to dig ditches. I don’t see people who dig ditches doing over 100hrs a week. Animation artists rarely get overtime pay. So their 80k a year is actually less then half that giving the amount of hours they work. Also given the amount of time they are at work they don’t get to see their family’s or have a life outside of work. Your comments about other fields of work are irrelevant, another person could say the same thing about digging ditches against their own field of work. Actually working in the animation industry we hear this as one of the main complaints from other artists saying “Id get paid more per hour working at McDonalds or I could go hold a stop and go sign for more pay”. Over the years of working I have seen so many talented people give up this industry and change jobs due to not having stability or being able to get more money from other means. Turning up to work with less then 4hrs of sleep and feeling like a zombie is no picnic. Get your facts straight before making stupid comments.

    • Shokukin Konu

      First of all, manual labor is very important – undoubtedly. Watching an expert brick layer smoothly align, cut, and set an intricately designed sidewalk in 100 degree weather is mesmerizing. Such work should indeed be paid highly.
      The problem with your response is that you are, truly, thinking like a slave. You have been battered so deeply into submission by the establishment that your knee-jerk reaction is to defend a system which is designed to do one thing: drive wages down. You think like a slave, on so many levels. Lets start with the basic premise – here you are, having X standard of living. Its very simple – do we, as a society, want to value what you do and have your wages, lifestyle, comfort, leisure, security go up, or go down.
      The establishment wants it to go down. So the best way to do this is to compare you to people below you. You “spoiled” worker – look at the laborers in india and china making pennies. They will incessantly tout the free-market to drive labor and wages down (compare you to your peers around the world) but when it comes to corporate profit and management, they loathe the free market. This is the real duplicity Catmull is guilty of: Free market for the laborers, anti-free market for the capital owners. This, more or less, is what slavery is about.
      Everyones wages need to go up. That includes construction, manual, creative, technical. The problem today is the ultra-rich .1% of capital owners are huge, and have so much money (trillions upon trillions) people have no security. People do not own their homes (most people). They are in debt up to their necks because the capital owners have a monopoly on real estate and can drive prices high.
      Unless a release valve will send capital back into the labor force (highly and lowly skilled), and these monopolies are broken, we are headed towards a rome style collapse. That wont be pretty.

    • bob

      I used to be in construction and now I work in animation.

      Construction is pretty easy as long as your in good shape. You just have to do something that is super repetitive… it doesn’t take a HUGE amount of skill, but it does take some. It’s mostly just really boring.

      Certain jobs in animation are, by far, much harder. It might not be physical, but it requires a massive amount of skill, hard work, and dedication. It can take years upon years upon years of constant effort to be good enough to get a junior position in the industry. Whereas with construction… you can just walk on site and have someone tell you what to do. For leadership positions you might take a two year course, which before that course you don’t have to know anything at all. Art takes your entire life, not just a 4 year college degree.

      I think that people should be paid what they’re worth. Especially those who imagine and construct worlds which go on to bring in millions and even billions of dollars. Instead you get the highest ranking, non-creative people taking advantage of the non-business-like art mind. The top people take millions, and give those that did the heavy lifting pennies in comparison.

      If you’re okay with that, then you’re naive in my book.

  • Jem

    Maybe I’m naive enough to think something more than a slap on the wrist will develop from all of this before it’s said and done, but I’m quite concerned to how this will affect upcoming projects. There’s tons of animated films on the table for the next few years, but will morale be broken or will there be major layoffs resulting in films being pushed back or will these guys get the boot and the films crumble in a shift of power? I mean, there’s so many ways it seems this could go and it’s more than a little disheartening to think of the people whose jobs will be affected as well as, selfishly so, the way the audience will also get screwed over.

  • Wouter

    Obviously this is a huge discussion that brings up a lot of fears about job security and fair wages. But maybe cartoon brew should take the lead and actively advocate for all of us involved in the industry. Not the directors and CEO’s in the spotlight but all of us creatives working in this cut-throat studio system. As an important resource for the industry there’s some influence here. Let’s not just let the conversation slide down the front page.

  • anonymous

    boycott them all !!

  • anonymous

    boycott them all !!

  • YeSnNo

    Just to be clear, you are free to go to any place that offers you a job at a price you like, PROVIDED that the market is free, and no one is colluding to fix the price of the employees (as is alleged here). So a FREE MARKET is for the benefit of the worker ONLY IF the market is free, and not having ILLEGAL backroom deals so no one will offer you more to leave. If what is alleged by Catmull occurred, then no job offer would lure you from the job you have. IN a free market, and someone wanted you, they offer you more money to leave the company you work for to come to them (free market sets the wage price). If Catmull sets the wage price, no free market, and no opportunity to leave for more money. It benefits the companies as they have fixed the price of employees. But it doesn’t benefit the employees who aren’t getting their fair market worth. This is why it was declared illegal. I was lured from Disney with a lot more money by Sony. Sony didn’t play the Catmull game. Had Sony not offered more, I would have stayed where I was since there was no benefit to leaving. That is precisely the difference between FREE market and Fixed market. When Dwks was set up, Jeffrey lured animators from Disney, prompting contracts from Disney and from Dwks to avoid losing people. When Jeffrey couldn’t get people because of contracts (legal way of holding employees) Jeffrey went to the European market as he couldn’t find the talent. That was when the wages in Animation increased, that was the market price for talent. Catmull always had the option to keep employees with time contracts without resorting to price fixing.

  • YeSnNo

    Just to be clear, you are free to go to any place that offers you a job at a price you like, PROVIDED that the market is free, and no one is colluding to fix the price of the employees (as is alleged here). So a FREE MARKET is for the benefit of the worker ONLY IF the market is free, and not having ILLEGAL backroom deals so no one will offer you more to leave. If what is alleged by Catmull occurred, then no job offer would lure you from the job you have. IN a free market, and someone wanted you, they offer you more money to leave the company you work for to come to them (free market sets the wage price). If Catmull sets the wage price, no free market, and no opportunity to leave for more money. It benefits the companies as they have fixed the price of employees. But it doesn’t benefit the employees who aren’t getting their fair market worth. This is why it was declared illegal. I was lured from Disney with a lot more money by Sony. Sony didn’t play the Catmull game. Had Sony not offered more, I would have stayed where I was since there was no benefit to leaving. That is precisely the difference between FREE market and Fixed market. When Dwks was set up, Jeffrey lured animators from Disney, prompting contracts from Disney and from Dwks to avoid losing people. When Jeffrey couldn’t get people because of contracts (legal way of holding employees) Jeffrey went to the European market as he couldn’t find the talent. That was when the wages in Animation increased, that was the market price for talent. Catmull always had the option to keep employees with time contracts without resorting to price fixing.

  • Jonathan Jean-Louis

    Before reading this article, I had always thought that Ed Catmull and John Lasseter were decent people, people who were rare and based, those who were fighting the good fight, giving the public quality animated films in their PIXAR studios for several years. But now, after having read it, I will never think of them the same way again; instead, they are as morally corrupt (if not even more so than other execs in other studios). Fixing your employee’s wages is an extremely heinous and shameful thing to do. Even if most of their films are excellent, I hope that Catmull and Lasseter will be punished for this.

  • Tyler Durden

    Ironically, Ed Catmull didn’t have any problem with poaching employees from NYIT when he was first starting Pixar. Using the same methods as Sony I might add.

  • Tyler Durden

    Ironically, Ed Catmull didn’t have any problem with poaching employees from NYIT when he was first starting Pixar. Using the same methods as Sony I might add.

  • JM

    The free market is the most powerful tool artists have to increase their wages and quality of life. And basically it is nothing more then competition. Take that away, and you lose all power. This is why these execs were trying to stop the free market from functioning (by forming a cartel).

    I don’t agree that this is a failure of a free market. If anything, it shows the dangers of NOT having a free market.

  • JM

    The free market is the most powerful tool artists have to increase their wages and quality of life. And basically it is nothing more then competition. Take that away, and you lose all power. This is why these execs were trying to stop the free market from functioning (by forming a cartel).

    I don’t agree that this is a failure of a free market. If anything, it shows the dangers of NOT having a free market.

  • Taco

    I’m really glad I didn’t end up buying Creativity Inc (both Figuratively & Literally)… I just waited for it to come to my Public Library so I could loan it out & read it for Free. I’m sure a young Edd Catmull/Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Jeffrey Katzenberg would’ve done exactly the same thing. ;-)

  • Taco

    I’m really glad I didn’t end up buying Creativity Inc (both Figuratively & Literally)… I just waited for it to come to my Public Library so I could loan it out & read it for Free. I’m sure a young Edd Catmull/Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Jeffrey Katzenberg would’ve done exactly the same thing. ;-)

  • Jeffrey

    Key point: “while Ed & John made millions off the Disney Deal and who knows how much they profited off this too, most likely Millions as well. ”

    Those guys had better feel shame if nothing else. We’ve all seen ‘A day in John Lasseter’s (obscene) Life’ on youtube. It’d be nice the union stepped up on this golden opportunity to right things.

    • http://tresportfolio.tumblr.com/ Tres Swygert

      Oh man, that “A Day in John Lasseter’s Life” was so over the top. :/

  • Jeffrey

    Key point: “while Ed & John made millions off the Disney Deal and who knows how much they profited off this too, most likely Millions as well. ”

    Those guys had better feel shame if nothing else. We’ve all seen ‘A day in John Lasseter’s (obscene) Life’ on youtube. It’d be nice the union stepped up on this golden opportunity to right things.

  • Power_Animator

    Dude/gal, you must be labouring under some type of delusion. What you see in front of cameras isnt candid. Its polished, rehearsed. Wake up n smell the jelly beans. You sound as though you’re 10 yrs of age and living in marshmallow land.

  • Jonathan Jean-Louis

    You know, many of these people with gold gradually got it by founding, worked in, and gradually expanding companies where they succeeded. But Catmull and Lasseter fixing the wages for their employees was wrong.

  • Jonathan Jean-Louis

    CN firing Skyler Page was the right thing to do, considering that he groped women. Other than that, I agree.

    • http://tresportfolio.tumblr.com/ Tres Swygert

      Oh, I agree with Cartoon Network needing to fire Skyler Page. While I’m glad they did, I still feel like they have more explanation and more improving of their work environment. I am sure CN knew of Skyler’s behavior before this came up…if so, they really need to take more ownership in this.

      For now, they need to prove that their place can improve in regards of being a safe environment to work. Should this happen again, and they don’t change, there needs to be some changes with leadership there.

  • Strong Enough

    idgaf. give me a job at pixar now

  • Innistrader

    I’ll just iterate on what I said earlier: has everyone drunk the globalist kool-aid and lost all concepts whatsoever of trade protectionism? The idea that a sovereign nation can ensure the viability of its workforce through the law?

    No?

    You’ve all thrown that away so you can be forced into economic competition with people who have third world living conditions – or even more grotesquely – abjured yourselves of any concept of self-worth in favor of being enslaved by uncaring oligarchs because the alternative of actually having functional legal protections for native businesses is unthinkable to you?

    There is no logic whereby it becomes acceptable for a wage-fixing cartel to exist as a necessary choice versus total outsourcing. I know the powers that be might like you to believe that; and I’m sure the sentiment that there shouldn’t be borders to talent is enticing; but are you actually so eager to race to the bottom of the skilled labor market that you’d subject yourselves to slavery?

    How did anyone become this debased in the United States of America?

    • Dusky

      Innostrader, I read your reply to my earlier comment and see where you’re coming from. From what I know but I admit I am a little fuzzy on the subject, there are a lot of tax breaks for outsourcing which is a plus asides from the lower wages paid overseas. So how do we keep the incentive to hire locally and fairly? Capitalism isn’t all that and a bag of chips when it is at the expense of the disappearing middle class in this economy. Using Bob’s example of hiring a thai animator for the fraction of the cost of an American animator, I wouldn’t mind seeing a heavy tax come of it, which would actually make hiring American much more appealing. Germany has things figured out by keeping all of their jobs within the country and being very proud of it. Or perhaps the animation industry (at least in feature) is just at an all time low right now, with far greater supply of animators than demand for them?

      • Innistrader

        People don’t do anything in response to official corruption and those people who are above the law selling them out anymore. They just don’t respond meaningfully. We keep electing people who only use their hands to shake these corporate pricks and rifle through our bank accounts.

        No one puts any level of accountability on these people anymore. It’s disgusting what we let them get away with because of this plague of learned helplessness afflicting everyone; everyone who implicitly trusts neo-Marxist ideologues; who thinks globalism is inevitable and perfect even when its reducing their futures to dust.

        The only thing we have to do to keep individual wealth growing and not become chattel for a rabble of plague fleas who jump from one country/corpse to the next is actually be aware of what they’re doing. Hopefully this episode will actually get people to shake them off; shake off this hero worship of self-promoting sociopaths.

  • A Stranger in the Alps

    The thing is, millions of companies manage to set reasonable wages without illegal collusion, despite the fact that collusion would be the easiest way. The reason we have laws in the first place is we’ve decided what’s easiest isn’t necessarily right. Police work would be easier if individuals didn’t have a right to privacy. Advertising would be easier if you didn’t need to make accurate claims. And succeeding in business would be easier if you could alter the free market in your favour. We’ve decided that making things harder is a fair trade in exchange for protecting the rights of others–in this case, the right to a wage set by market forces, and not solely by the desires of a small group of people with a disproportionate amount of influence.

  • Taco

    He views those people as
    sheep. And he goes to other shepherds and tells them to feed their own
    sheep a certain way, so that his sheep wont go running off to them. Clearly he understood that what he was doing was illegal and morally wrong, why can’t you get that?

    @Guest , great words here. So much so that I thought they needed to be re-posted in BIG BOLD LETTERS… it really is that simply & understandable ladies & gentlemen.

  • Vancouverite

    It happens in some form or another everywhere. You should come work in Vancouver, where a certain large studio head bullies other companies into paying the artists low wages so they can ‘keep them in line’

    • vancouveritetoo

      care to elaborate?

  • James Carthew

    What really needs to happen is the animation union needs to organise a general strike and they need to demand a pay rise in line with what’s been missed in the last couple of years. The strike needs to be binding and affect all workers/studios to force the companies to the table. You also need to get your government seriously involved.

    But then, it’s America, so probably nothing will happen, and that’s why the country is regressing instead of progressing.

  • James Carthew

    Actually slaves were allowed to own other slaves, and often did “desk work”, book keeping, managing accounts etc. Slavery wasn’t all cotton-picking and beatings in the fields you know. Ancient Greek/Roman slavery had a huge desk-job component. Stopping your workers from being able to increase their earnings at a reasonable rate IS a form of slavery. Just because the cage is gold, doesn’t make it less of a cage. Hell all the science now points to the fact that sitting at a desk all day, aka IT/Computer work, similar to what animators do. Is the worst thing you can possibly do to your heart, and your body. Causes diabetes, weight gain, and cardio failure, and is not offset by physical exercise performed out of work hours.

  • Jackadullboy

    What, so you can use that showreel material to get into the next big studio that pays peanuts??

  • Greg Boone

    Bottom line here is the law was broken and no law was enforced. That establishes a whole new game plan. Shows the only way to deal with people like these.

  • Brandon Fernandes

    I always had a dream of working in Pixar, then when I heard the horror stories and found out about the amount of shit Artists have to deal with, I was like “fuck that”..

    My dream now is to work with Valve <3 <3 <3 !

  • Mister Twister

    Here is a question. If this is really the truth, and this stuff is happening, and all those people are really responsible… when why haven’t somebody shut Cartoonbrew down yet? I mean, if this place is really spreading the truth, the powers that be won’t want that, right? RIGHT?

    How is this place still standing?

    • Ken Martinez

      They don’t see it as a threat. Look at the comments. Lots of people don’t care, and lots of others think Catmull and Lasseter are innocent lambs who don’t know the meaning of the word unscrupulous. Or illegal for that matter.

      If this convinced everyone to stop taking exploitation gladly and rebel against these skid marks, then the ISPs WOULD be suppressing this. But it won’t, so the Brew is safe.

  • FRE85

    Before people keep acting like Catmull and Lasseter are the Antichrist, please read this calm and level-headed article that I found on the subject; http://www.westcoaster.net/2014/07/11/theyre-only-human-and-humans-make-mistakes-often/

  • Ken Martinez

    “Pixar screwed with the livelihoods of the entire animation industry, and flagrantly broke the law to do it, but Ed Catmull is just so wonderful, you guys. His autobio told me so”

    It’s a miracle that this even went public.

  • Allen

    HR always backs corporate management. It’s why they exist.

  • Sky

    What a scumbag, makes me want to boycott Pixar films.

    • DangerMaus

      I’ve thought about the idea of boycotting Pixar films, but who would I be hurting worse by doing so? A guy like Ed Catmull that has more money than God and the ability to move to another industry or studio if Pixar collapsed or the average working stiff at Pixar who needs his or her job to make their mortgage payments?

      If Pixar employees, themselves, don’t leave in droves over this scandal then I don’t see boycotting Pixar flicks as being beneficial to them, since obviously they need to put their jobs ahead of any principles.

      • Innistrader

        That’s their problem. You’re not doing them any favors by suborning a plantation system where employees are depersonalized into property.

        • DangerMaus

          Well, you’ve got a point there.

  • Christopher Olson

    “Creativity, Inc.” is starting to take on a more sinister connotation.

  • Sarah Jaston

    This is so saddening. I’ve looked up to these people for years and to hear this sort of thing just breaks my heart. What really gets me is that I bought Catmull’s book when it came out and was so inspired by the way he talked about his employees, how much he cared for them, how important he felt it was to reward them appropriately. What a load of crap

  • static

    Convincing people to work for less because it provides more of a cost buffer is different than asking another company’s recruiters to stop calling people. What is the dishonesty and corruption? There was nothing stopping someone from Pixar from applying for a job at Lucasfilm or Dreamworks, just an (apparently illegal) unofficial agreement that the recruiters shouldn’t try to call people.

  • Jonathan Jean-Louis

    The marketing is the only reason these films failed. The concepts the films had are timeless. Otherwise, I agree with you.

  • http://comicfreek123.deviantart.com/art/Giygas-169767267 Heken Skeleton

    Holy Crap.

  • DangerMaus

    That is the problem with “Free Trade” as it is being practiced today. National governments have sold out their populations to corporate interests and the global aristocracy on the basis of “if business is freed up to operate as they like, where they like then everyone will benefit”. Corporate interests and rights are protected by “Free Trade” agreements, while the National interest and the rights of Labour are completely ignored and/or undermined.

    It’s all going to end badly in the end. I just hope it doesn’t end at a time where I’m still around to see it, because when the warped system that is operating now resets, as it invariably has to, then the economic dislocation and destruction is going to make the “The Great Depression” look like the sputtering of a wet firecracker.

  • Nice try….but…..

    Sadly, “Thats the way its always been” in the case of the Guild/Union 839. No power to do anything.

    They’ve provided a good 401K and Healthcare… But beyond that….you’re on your own.

    • Ken Martinez

      There’s a lot of fear driving the actions of the union and the leaders; fear of the studios, fear of the IASTE. How is a union supposed to function when it’s too terrified and timid to actually do its job?

  • shulett

    You might want to urge your friends to come to the July 29th TAG General Membership meeting, where we’ll be discussing remedies to this activity.

    Pixar is non-union and has long had lower wages than L.A. based union cartoon studios. There is NOTHING preventing Pixar employees from striking against the Catmull-Jobs wage cartel.

    In point of fact, the cartel and suppression of wages is a 21st century phenomenon. In the 1990s, animation wages went up a lot when there was a demand for talent. Well, there’s a high demand for talent now, but no corresponding rise in salaries. I guess now we know why.

    • Jonathan Jean-Louis

      THIS. So much. Besides, all animators in America need to rebell against crap like this.

    • Nice try….but…..

      I’m more interested to hear what’s being done about the LA studio situation. Specifically, Dreamworks and Disney conversations and collusions. Honestly, hasn’t the Guild/Union known about this for a long time now?

    • Ken Martinez

      Read the article. Disney and Dreamworks ARE union, and part of the cartel.

  • AnimationGuy

    No. Nobody conspires or aspires to be ‘evil’.
    People only do what they must or what they think is ‘right’, and it so often happens that people who are doing wrong think that they are the most righteous.

  • Mr-Famicom

    I will not call South Korea slave chumps, Rough Draft’s crew gets payed 18,000 to 22,000 won a hour and even post strike Mir gets 12,000 won a hour, the only South Korean studios that tend to be listed as slave chumps (or studios that pay 3000 won per foot/0.3048 meters) are studios that do anime for Japanese studios (and there are alot of Japanese studios that pay even less then South Korean studios).

    In short, this will not happen if.

    Disney never shut down their hand draw unit and do shows that are Disney and not Cartoon Network/Teletoon rejects.

    Pixar never made sequels no one asked for.

    Dreamworks never bought out said dormant IPs (yet I think they did something good with that).

    Lucasfilm however is a long story.

    Really if you what to fix this the fast way, get rid of Korea, China, Taiwan, The Philippines, India and even Canada (blame Mercury Filmworks) and bring back Japan, France and Australia, the sooner TMS and The Answer Studio (they used to be Disney Animation Japan) come back, the better.

  • http://tresportfolio.tumblr.com/ Tres Swygert

    Great response, and fully agree with your statement here. I do hope things get better for you and your colleagues, continue to find the great opportunities you all deserve.

  • Jackadullboy

    Whether there is or isn’t anything giving them pause, obviously it doesn’t validate the corrupt activities people are taking issue with here.

  • CTM

    You know the more I read the more I start to agree with the theory that Pixar actually is run by Lotso Huggin’ Bear. With shades of Hopper from a Bug’s Life as well.

    He’s made it into a pyramid and put himself on top. And it’s about keeping those ants in line.

  • Guest

    Thank you for clarifying that the picture provided of Ed Catmull is a “Photo-illustration” and not an oddly taken selfie of Catmull working at his desk during “Fancy Wear Fridays” at Pixar Studios (also if this is not a thing already Pixar employees please make this a thing).

  • Tom Sullivan

    A nasty piece of scum working at high level in a corporation. No surprise there.

  • http://www.futomen.net/ uncleMasta

    Several former coworkers went to better jobs at other studios. Better pay, better positions. And some coworkers came from other positions at other studios.

    Well, I was just speaking from my experience, which apparently is different from yours. But my point was that a blanket statement (that they are all slaves) is untrue.

  • Droobiedoo

    As per catmull’s book, I ‘d say you’re 100% correct. His apparent penchant for layers of bureaucratic top down management is on full display and clearly stated in his book. “Trust the artists less, trust managers more.” The more to dilute any blame on the upper management. And thanks to his bringing bad publicity on the situation, Disney has more leverage than ever to start sending more and more work overseas.

  • Jackadullboy

    Sorry, but this is a total non-sequitur and besides the point. We are talking about business malpractice here, and awareness-raising.

    Yes, people can always (and do) set out on their own… Great, good for them. So what?? So artists working as employees should just suck it up?

    Besides, unless people are taken to task for this kind of thing, those artists setting up their own businesses will themselves become unscrupulous employers.

  • Jared B

    Disney does this even today. Try making jumps to different divisions and 90% of the time your current division will squash it. You have a better shot at leaving and coming back.

  • Kenntron

    That’s hateful

  • artboy

    You see all the glamorous Pixar movies and want in, You go to art school and work like a dog to have a nice portfolio.

    Bottom line is, the studios know you want in and willing to take all kinds of abuse just to be in the business. The glamor is too irresistible and the studios know it, and happy to take advantage of it.

    Lassater sold out long ago. He doesn’t give a sheet about the art staff. It’s about making his bank account fatter now. Look at the recent Pixar movies. They’re horrible. They used to be good but not anymore. Those days are gone.