Musician's Union Threatens to Expel The Banner Saga Composer

roseofbattle

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Apr 18, 2011
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Musician's Union Threatens to Expel The Banner Saga Composer

Composer Austin Wintory violated American Federation of Musicians' rules by recording the score for The Banner Saga in Texas under non-union auspices.

Austin Wintory [http://escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/the%20banner%20saga] may face expulsion from the American Federation of Musicians for refusing to pay a $2,500 fine he received for recording the game's score under non-union auspices.

If Wintory does not pay the fine, the AFM will expel him. Wintory told Variety his lawyers are "dealing with the realities of the board's ability to expel me."

Wintory recorded the score for the game The Banner Saga in a right-to-work state, a statute that states no person can be denied employment because of non-membership in a union, after he discovered recording with union musicians in Los Angeles would be twice as expensive as recording in London after a revised union contract. In 2012 the union instituted a heavily restrictive contract that game publishers refused to sign.

A committee task force put together the AFM Video Game/Interactive Media Agreement, effective December 1, 2012, without speaking to composers or musicians of the union to vote on it. Because publishers refused to sign it, many union members were unable to find work and turned to work without union sanction.

Wintory explained [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqvraGNfKVY] how the AFM has "effectively made it impossible" for composers to make music for games. Wintory said no AFM musician had been able to find work after 2012 for new video game scores. He specifically spoke out against the intimidation from his union.

The AFM and Microsoft worked out a new agreement in June 2014 [http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/american-federation-of-musicians-inks-new-videogame-agreement-with-microsoft-1201217664/] to replace the old contract. The new contract allows game publishers to use music from games in commercials for an additional payment.

Wintory has declined to pay the fine "on principle," and he has offered to make a $2,500 contribution to Education Through Music, a Los Angeles-based music charity, instead.

The AFM board's actions are at odds with the local L.A. chapter, Local 47, who support Wintory through a resolution passed in October.

Source: Variety [http://variety.com/2015/music/news/american-federation-of-musicians-threatens-to-expel-grammy-nominated-video-game-composer-exclusive-1201400889/]


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Fox12

AccursedT- see you space cowboy
Jun 6, 2013
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Yeah, seriously, fuck Unions. They're almost as bad as corporations at restricting art. I can't understand why an artist would want to join a union, unless it somehow restrict their employment opportunities.

Plus, apparently a union was partially the cause of us not having the original voice of Chie return in P4 Golden. Fuck them.
 

Saviordd1

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Jan 2, 2011
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Fox12 said:
Yeah, seriously, fuck Unions. They're almost as bad as corporations at restricting art. I can't understand why an artist would want to join a union, unless it somehow restrict their employment opportunities.
This, this, a thousand times this.

I like the idea of Unions, I really do. But it seems like whenever they show up in the news its ruining peoples lives or restricting things that shouldn't be restricted.
 

Morti

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Aug 19, 2008
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Read it twice, still not entirely sure what's going on beyond a dude is refusing to pay a fine.
 

noobiemcfoob

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Mar 18, 2013
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I've always felt that unions were created to address completely legitimate problems and real unfairness. However, I've also always felt that once that unfairness was initially addressed, unions should have disbanded.

I live in a right-to-work state, and for the employment benefits I receive I can largely thank the historical work of unions (and a more progressively minded leadership). That said, I'm not in a union and see no benefit to one in my current position. If conditions were to change, that's when a union should come together, address the issue, then promptly disband.
 

PBMcNair

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Aug 31, 2009
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Aren't unions generally supposed to make life difficult for the employers of their members, not the members themselves ?
 

Win32error

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Is this like a thing with American unions? The only time I hear about unions in my country is when they're threatening with a strike because wage/benefits negotiations are failing.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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Sep 8, 2011
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American's can't even do unions like the rest of the fuckin' world. It's supposed to be there to protect the working man, not to exploit him. But American logic is all about getting a piece of someone else's cake. Fuck, I'm glad I moved from that shithole.
 

Vivi22

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PBMcNair said:
Aren't unions generally supposed to make life difficult for the employers of their members, not the members themselves ?
Bureaucracy doesn't discriminate.
 

delroland

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Saviordd1 said:
Fox12 said:
Yeah, seriously, fuck Unions. They're almost as bad as corporations at restricting art. I can't understand why an artist would want to join a union, unless it somehow restrict their employment opportunities.
This, this, a thousand times this.

I like the idea of Unions, I really do. But it seems like whenever they show up in the news its ruining peoples lives or restricting things that shouldn't be restricted.
That's because when unions aren't screwing up, it's not newsworthy. Therefore we get a disparity in the message: "Look at all the bad things unions do! Ignore all the good things behind the curtain!"
 

Schadrach

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Fox12 said:
I can't understand why an artist would want to join a union, unless it somehow restrict their employment opportunities.
That is exactly what it does, and intentionally so. Once enough have joined such a union, they make it a violation to ever work with anyone who isn't union, that way anyone coming into the industry has to be union or they can't find employment. Which in turn perpetuates being able to force people into the union in the same fashion.
 

Abomination

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So what we have here is essentially extortion by exclusion? Join the union, pay the fee/fine, follow our restrictive practices or you'll never work again!

My understanding of unions was to serve as clout on the side of employees in employee-employer relations. As far as I can tell in this case the employee and employer had a very respectful relationship and both parties benefited.
 

JarinArenos

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Saviordd1 said:
I like the idea of Unions, I really do. But it seems like whenever they show up in the news its ruining peoples lives or restricting things that shouldn't be restricted.
Pretty sure that's because, 99% of the time, when they're just doing their jobs... they aren't showing up in the news.
 

major_chaos

Ruining videogames
Feb 3, 2011
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Yea as someone who had to join to keep my job, fuck unions. They may have had a legitimate purpose decades ago but that time has passed and now they exist for the benefit of a few people at the top and do nothing but take money from the people they make a thin pretense of "protecting".
 

Baresark

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Dec 19, 2010
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It's situations like this that show how overreaching a union can be. Fuckin' morons.

Adam Jensen said:
American's can't even do unions like the rest of the fuckin' world. It's supposed to be there to protect the working man, not to exploit him. But American logic is all about getting a piece of someone else's cake. Fuck, I'm glad I moved from that shithole.
That's an awful vitriolic comment.

Mostly, America does do it like the rest of the world, which is why you don't hear about shit like this all the time. In their eyes, they are protecting everyone by making sure none of the members give in to working in what they would consider less than appropriate conditions. In their eyes, they are protecting others who are not this individual. Also, unions pretty much everywhere have similar ideals. A Union is nothing if it's members can just go and work in whatever conditions for any amount of money. Also, the whole bit about how the union feels regarding the the video game industry is very important.

PBMcNair said:
Aren't unions generally supposed to make life difficult for the employers of their members, not the members themselves ?
Generally speaking their job isn't to make anyone's life difficult by design, they are there to make sure the work and wages are "fair". You don't see this type of thing happen very often, but one of the biggest problems with unions is that if you are in an industry where unions have a strong presence, it's not an option to not be a part of them. It works like this, you get a job that has a union attached to it, you must pay union dues. That said, you are free to opt out of the union but you still must pay union dues (it's federal law going back to the very foundation of unions). So, you can opt out, enjoy none of the protections the union offers and still pay union dues. Or you can join the union, get their protection, and pay your union dues. If you join the union, you are stuck to their rules as a matter of contractual obligation. He is voluntarily part of the union, they will try to fine him as a matter of failure to observe the contractual rules he signed off on. Every union everywhere, it's pretty much the same kind of deal. Only in America does it make the news when a union is fucking someone over.
 

Matt K

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Sep 18, 2010
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Baresark said:
Generally speaking their job isn't to make anyone's life difficult by design, they are there to make sure the work and wages are "fair". You don't see this type of thing happen very often, but one of the biggest problems with unions is that if you are in an industry where unions have a strong presence, it's not an option to not be a part of them. It works like this, you get a job that has a union attached to it, you must pay union dues. That said, you are free to opt out of the union but you still must pay union dues (it's federal law going back to the very foundation of unions). So, you can opt out, enjoy none of the protections the union offers and still pay union dues. Or you can join the union, get their protection, and pay your union dues. If you join the union, you are stuck to their rules as a matter of contractual obligation. He is voluntarily part of the union, they will try to fine him as a matter of failure to observe the contractual rules he signed off on. Every union everywhere, it's pretty much the same kind of deal. Only in America does it make the news when a union is fucking someone over.
Actually I'm a member of my work's union and unless I actually want to vote on the few things that require voting I pay nothing. That said they are incredibly helpful in making my work life a lot easier than what management wants and especially when management (although in the case I'm thinking of, it's another agency) actively tries to screw people over.

Cases like this are pretty rare and reading the article, the local union actually supports this guy.
 

ElMinotoro

Socialist Justice Warrior
Jul 17, 2014
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"I don't much about unions other than what the news tells me but here's my opinion anyway"

DO YOU REALISE THAT THE AFM IS NOT A TRADE UNION?
 

Baresark

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Dec 19, 2010
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Matt K said:
Baresark said:
Generally speaking their job isn't to make anyone's life difficult by design, they are there to make sure the work and wages are "fair". You don't see this type of thing happen very often, but one of the biggest problems with unions is that if you are in an industry where unions have a strong presence, it's not an option to not be a part of them. It works like this, you get a job that has a union attached to it, you must pay union dues. That said, you are free to opt out of the union but you still must pay union dues (it's federal law going back to the very foundation of unions). So, you can opt out, enjoy none of the protections the union offers and still pay union dues. Or you can join the union, get their protection, and pay your union dues. If you join the union, you are stuck to their rules as a matter of contractual obligation. He is voluntarily part of the union, they will try to fine him as a matter of failure to observe the contractual rules he signed off on. Every union everywhere, it's pretty much the same kind of deal. Only in America does it make the news when a union is fucking someone over.
Actually I'm a member of my work's union and unless I actually want to vote on the few things that require voting I pay nothing. That said they are incredibly helpful in making my work life a lot easier than what management wants and especially when management (although in the case I'm thinking of, it's another agency) actively tries to screw people over.

Cases like this are pretty rare and reading the article, the local union actually supports this guy.
I think that particular union is not following the norm. All of my union experiences have not been that way. For instance: When I was 16 working at my local Shoprite, I was forced into the union for stock boys (not sure what it was actually called). I would make a whopping $50/week, and then I would have to pay them $5 for my dues and then pay taxes. Shoprite gave out abysmal hours. They would just keep hiring and hiring and then people would quit because they couldn't get hours and the one's left would then get more hours until they hired a bunch of new people... it was a terrible cycle.

The part where you are forced to pay is actually Federal Law to protect unions that was created under FDR's administration in regards to collective bargaining. One of the biggest issues with it from day one is it does not allow you to negotiate your own contract where unions have a presence, you get what the union gets so you pay them. even if you aren't a member. In your case, I'm sure unions have the ability to not enforce that if they don't want to, but in my experience, that is far from the norm. I know people who work in a lot of unions and that is the case for them.
 

Fox12

AccursedT- see you space cowboy
Jun 6, 2013
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Schadrach said:
Fox12 said:
I can't understand why an artist would want to join a union, unless it somehow restrict their employment opportunities.
That is exactly what it does, and intentionally so. Once enough have joined such a union, they make it a violation to ever work with anyone who isn't union, that way anyone coming into the industry has to be union or they can't find employment. Which in turn perpetuates being able to force people into the union in the same fashion.
Can... can we boycott a Union? Like, all the union members go on strike, and demand better treatment from their Union representatives? Maybe negotiate with the leaders to try and get better quality treatment for the members? Form a Pickett line outside their offices? Lord, living in America : P

This reminds me of another incident, where the unions tried to squash Star Wars because Lucas had the nerve to put the credits at the end of the film.
 

Demagogue

Sperm Alien
Mar 26, 2009
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Saviordd1 said:
I like the idea of Unions, I really do. But it seems like whenever they show up in the news its ruining peoples lives or restricting things that shouldn't be restricted.
Of course... because that's the story the news media wants you to know. Not how a union stopped a huge corporation from increasing their CEO's salary by 15% by cutting benefits to all the workers in the company.

Unions are far from perfect, but I fear a world without them when Greed and 'the almighty dollar' hold so much sway in the west.