Image Comics Forms a Union – Your Thoughts and Reactions?Posted by buddyscalera on November 1, 2021 at 11:14 pm
Very interesting news in our industry. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts:
Edit: New website URL is https://www.cbwupdx.com/
(Special thanks to @andresbriano )
MemberNovember 1, 2021 at 11:36 pmMakes 025 Forum Points
I think it’s fascinating in that it isn’t comprised of creators. Also, how large a scale union is this going to be and who can it compromise of. And as anything goes, there are positives and negatives to anything.
MemberNovember 1, 2021 at 11:54 pmMakes 623 Forum Points
the articles seem a little short on details. when they say
“Our workforce, and the comic book and publishing industry as a whole, is overtaxed and undervalued.”
it makes me wonder how you figure that out. as an outsider, ive always has the impression that comics is not a high profit margin business and that its essentially a loss leader for companies like Disney to use as a content discovery mechanism. if that’s true, then companies like Image and smaller Indies could be in trouble if this kind of sentiment spreads.
ModeratorNovember 2, 2021 at 12:11 am
This is very interesting, I would love to see more of this in the comics world but honestly as a “freelance” writer, forming a guild within a union seems like too much work for one person but then again I don’t really understand unions and guilds so once I brush up on those terms I’ll probably have a different reaction
- This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by videogamingtalkblog.
MemberNovember 2, 2021 at 12:13 am
Speaking as a former Teamster, I’m inclined to offer a measure of support. I think it would be better for the industry as a whole if the Big Two were to unionize, given what I’ve heard about pay-rates for editorial and production staff, but Image doesn’t seem to have the clout that it once did, so it’s hard to gauge their industry impact as a whole. Keep in mind, unionizing doesn’t mean everybody automatically gets health care and a pension, the company has to figure out how to pay for that somehow from their surplus as part of overall employee compensation (and yes I am aware that pension availability has been disappearing like mad across the country). Setting up something like a 401k with employer match would probably be a good step, but doesn’t require unionizing to do so.
Looking at reviews on Glassdoor (and taking them with the appropriate grain of salt), it sounds like the overall working conditions have not been favorably reviewed by the vast majority of former employees, citing poor relations with management. THAT would probably be the best conditions to unionize under, especially when the otherwise anonymous production staff risk losing their livelihood if they attempt to address grievances. Collective bargaining under those circumstances are exactly why unions were formed in the first place.
MemberNovember 2, 2021 at 3:07 am
I think if its forced on the creators its a bad thing. If the creators can opt – in or out and not have repercussions for opting out i.e. no work it should be fine. unions are pretty big in the north not so much in the southern states. With a company like Image its not really a big deal most of the creators have independent roots as it is.
MemberNovember 2, 2021 at 9:51 pm
Well, creators are freelancers, and freelancers can’t actually unionize (only form a guild, which is a new thing I have learned), so no threat there.
The main benefit of a union to the employee is that it requires the employer to meet certain criteria to terminate your employment. Let’s face it, job security is the most important feature to people who have to work to pay their bills, which is most people. The union forms an agreement with the employer that acts as a contract. Because they are negotiating as a group, the employer doesn’t have the power to just replace or fire a “problem” employee, so it provides the workforce a measure of protection while allowing them to simultaneously address workplace problems. So regular assessments of working conditions, performance reviews, and career mobility/retention/seniority recognition become beneficial because it builds overall morale while improving working conditions as well as improving the business itself.
In the case of Image, it basically means that the production staff can put a halt to publications if they feel that a given problem is not being adequately addressed. If needs aren’t being met, the books don’t go out, period. As everyone involved in the CBS 8-page challenges should be aware, the behind-the-scenes staff are absolutely integral to producing a finished product to put in front of an audience. Since the Image staff is stipulating the need for annual workplace assessment to meet hiring needs and just as importantly, compensation, this is putting management in the position of addressing issues that heretofore they had the power to ignore. Which is not to suggest that they hadn’t been addressing workplace issues to the best of their abilities, who am I to judge? I would say that the choice to unionize suggests that the workforce at Image had been unsatisfied with these efforts, however.
MemberNovember 2, 2021 at 9:42 pm
After re-reading the article it is not a union for the creators, it is for the non creative “office assistants” and they want to have final say so on who gets published. Its a power grab for do nothings. seems pretty stupid IMO.
MemberNovember 3, 2021 at 5:08 am
I would point out that one of the first things they are calling for is more people hired to their marketing departments. That’s a pretty important job, not the least bit simple, and probably the most significant part of anyone ever hearing about an Image book going to print. If someone considers that an inconsequential task, I don’t think there’s much more to discuss on the topic.
These people calling for unionization are editors, graphic designers, and other production staff without whom Image would be able to stay in print, which allow the writers and artists to do their thing from someplace other than their basements. It’s all fine and well to be creative, but unless a creator can develop that into a production process for their audience they’re going to have a pretty hard time monetizing their creativity.
MemberNovember 3, 2021 at 6:25 am
I have a problem with:
” A LONG TERM, ACTIONABLE PLAN TO ADDRESS THE OVERALL LACK OF DIVERSITY IN BOTH GENERAL STAFF AND MANAGEMENT. THE AUTHORS, ARTISTS, AND READERS WHO BRING COMICS TO LIFE HAVE NEVER BEEN HOMOGENOUS AND THE STORIES WE PUBLISH CAN ONLY BE IMPROVED BY STAFFING OUR ORGANIZATION IN A WAY THAT MORE ACCURATELY REFLECTS THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF OUR CREATORS, OUR READERSHIP, AND THE NATION AS A WHOLE.
RENEWED COMMITMENT TO COMPANY VALUES THROUGH THE ADDITION OF A COLLECTIVE VOTING OPTION TO IMMEDIATELY CANCEL PUBLICATION OF ANY TITLE WHOSE CREATOR(S) HAVE BEEN FOUND TO HAVE ENGAGED IN ABUSE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA, HOMOPHOBIA, TRANSPHOBIA, ANTI-SEMITISM, ISLAMOPHOBIA, ABLEISM, ETC. UNTIL SUCH TIME AS SAID CREATORS HAVE ENGAGED IN MEANINGFUL REPARATIONS TOWARD AFFECTED PERSON(S).”
This is not the direction that the average comic book reader wants. I own multiple stores, I have had a decline in sales over the last several years because of this Social Justice baloney. Comics are Fantasy escapism for young readers and adults the number of SJW’s that actually buy comics every Wednesday are far and few between.
This is a bunch of non- comic readers that want to kill the industry. They get into the industry as a gateway to Hollywood.
MemberNovember 4, 2021 at 1:08 am
I am sorry to hear that you have experienced a decline in revenue. Keeping a comic shop open is no small feat, especially nowadays.
As far as the stipulations regarding diversity in the workplace, given what I understand about the workplace culture being fostered at Image as well as in Portland, OR where their corporate headquarters reside, I found that probably the least surprising of their demands. Essentially, it was already in line with their corporate as well as community philosophies. Like it or not, they have a right to request it. Will it change their sales figures? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps they’ll find their audience the same way Fantagraphics did, or maybe they’ll go the way of Kitchen Sink Press, Eclipse, or Aircel. The market will ultimately decide, and if Image as a publisher isn’t sensitive to what their audience is willing to buy we already know what will happen.
I feel like the call for empowerment to cancel offensive publications is already being well-tread elsewhere on the internet, and I’m not particularly inclined to discuss it at length here. It seems like something a lot of people are fixating on, and it hasn’t even been approved yet. <font face=”inherit”>If that request is granted by Image management (which I think is unlikely), giving staffers de facto authority over the ability of creators deemed to be problematic to be able to publish under the Image logo… well, it seems like a move toward mob justice. I feel that Image as a publisher is already pretty sensitive to the environment around their respective creators. It doesn’t seem like a necessary step to outsource or democratize beyond the group of people who already make those decisions, and probably won’t be. </font>
<font face=”inherit”>But I could be wrong.</font>
ModeratorNovember 3, 2021 at 2:31 am
I’m here for this union. It’s a needed, and long over due. This speaks volumes “The creation of a more transparent company culture through monthly all-hands meetings, so all staff can better understand both the current and future priorities, responsibilities, and workloads of other departments.” Many have the ideal that this doesn’t take long – it’ll just be a few moments – however creation take hours on to of hours. The lack of understanding can sometimes create a failed project – failed projections – in many ways – publications late, finances lost, deadlines missed. The better the workloads and responsibilities of the various roles are understood, the better the growth for our industry. I like the idea of unionizing.
AdministratorNovember 4, 2021 at 3:53 am
Image has responded with a brief response, which is linked here.
“Image has always believed in the fair and equitable treatment of staff and has always strived to support employees to the best of our company’s ability with regard to their employment.”
ModeratorNovember 19, 2021 at 7:32 pm
As a long-time union member (UFT), I support this. The power to collectively bargain is a big one, and I have been happy to have the benefits negotiated by my union, as well as the legal protections it provides.
I find it really interesting that this is being done in a publishing house. That is rare. Having worked in journalism prior to switching to teaching, I know that most newsrooms and trade houses do not have unions.
It’s also interesting to see how Image will react, especially with its history of being founded on a belief in creator rights. Whomever is doing the talking points for the union did an excellent job putting in that line about Image’s history. That was an excellent job of framing from a pr and marketing standpoint, and it backs Image into a corner a bit PR wise.