Could A Union Make A Difference

I have heard all of the arguments for and against a union and in looking into it I found a few things….

Nothing I can think of is more American than baseball, and according to numbers released by AVN (The infamous 14 billion dollar figure oft quoted by Forbes and others) porn is larger in terms of money than Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey….combined.

But lets use baseball.  In the mid 60’s baseball players made, on average $14,000. Admitted that 19K went a LOT further in those days its the equiv of about 100K today…Not bad.  Salaries rose over the prior years but not much.

At that time baseball players were not unionized.  Many players and people in general thought that unions had outlived their usefulness and that paying more for players would destroy the industry.

After the players unionized salaries began to increase, in 2010 the average salary was $3,300,000 today the average salary is 4,400,000 dollars.

Now think about all the people involved in major league baseball, thats a pretty big business….but by Porn Valleys own accounting baseball is a smaller business than porn.

The average performer salary in porn these days is less than 50,000.

So COULD unionization improve the lives of performers?  The answer of course is yes, it certainly could.

I used baseball as an example but you could also contrast it with Hollywood (Mainstream movies) or pretty much any other industry you like and you will find similar outcomes.

Putting aside the current issues with the Performers Union and the growing pains there performers standing together could indeed change the entire industry, for the better.  Along with higher pay comes greater expectation, better Directors, potential endorsements, insurance, workplace conditions and in the end a better product.  It makes the industry harder to break into but that would be a good thing, specially right now, when we have more performers than we have movies.

There is a move afoot, by the Union, with lawyers attached to file a class action suit for royalties on the behalf of performers.  If that succeeds or even makes it into the courtroom it WILL change the biz in a BIG way, far more than Prop 60, and I think in the end, in a far better way than Prop 60. (more on this in the future.)

Despite the aforementioned growing pains the Union seems to be making some progress in much the same way that Unionizing Hollywood and baseball did.

Note I have used the word “could” here not “will” or “would” and therein lies the end result.  Will performers come togetherin a manner that unionization would/will improve their lives?  Well that’s up to y’all.

 

references:

https://sportslistoftheday.com/2011/12/05/major-league-baseballs-average-salaries-1964-2010/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2016/04/03/2016-mlb-salaries-payrolls/82592542/

36 Replies to “Could A Union Make A Difference”

  1. Toby

    I agree, a performers union will increase average income per performer and at the same time reduce the size of the talent pool entering the industry. At least in Porn Valley.

    The increase won’t be nearly as dramatic as the baseball figures, since the vast majority of that increase has come from the huge increase in television revenue.

  2. phyllisha

    Thank you Mike very much! Performers, adult film crew, web cam models, dancers, the time for free registration is almost over! The only way to join is through our website!
    Join now! Entertainmentadultunion.com

  3. Dirty Bob

    Royalties would never work in this biz – people come and go and disappear too quickly; can you imagine the huge $$ that would be sitting there after a few years that companies would be unable to distribute – who gets it? THAT is what worries me about it…royalties being undistributable and some fat calf winding up with it…

  4. Karmafan

    No one likes to admit it but a large portion of the world’s population watch porn in some fashion or flavor. Thats an untapped market because porn has always had a sleazy image so there is much shame for the workers and the consumer. A union might help to make some revenue for the workers if they can figure out:

    1. How to reduce or eliminate the douchbags that plague porn (suitcase pimps, crooked agents, scammers, etc..).

    2. Get a handle on piracy or find a business model that will make profit (music industry did it with pay by the song).

  5. BT

    There’s no reason that royalties wouldn’t work in porn, despite the fact that people come and go. People come and go in mainstream all the time. I was a member of the Writer’s Guild of America East for about 8 years, between 1990 and 1998. I have not done work in television since 1995. I still get statements related to my pension and life insurance benefits on a quarterly basis, more than 20 years after my last gig.

    Performers like Lisa Ann, Julia Ann, Phoenix Marie, etc. would benefit the most from royalties and given that they have made careers out of the industry. I’m sure they would have no problem updating the union on where to contact them so that they can get their royalties. If you’ve registered with the union and given them your social security number, date of birth and real name, they can find you if you’re too stupid to update your address in order to get paid.

  6. Karmafan

    Perhaps royalties could kick in after you have spent X amt. of years making porn or filmed XXX number of scenes and are in the biz for the long haul (like Julia Ann, Lisa Ann, etc…).

  7. MikeSouth

    ive heard the royalties wont work in this biz over and over but I dont buy it at all, they already work in this biz in The EU and have been for some time. sure theres a lot of transcience…but no more so than mainstream, besides when people have money coming, specially porn people they tend to stay in touch…

  8. ManCrack

    A union just wouldn’t work in todays porn industry. You have too many drugs addicts, whores, homo’s and other deviants of todays society. And then, you have Sean Tompkins and FSC shit eaters that would harass and stalk the members. Forget it, Just fuck, make your money and get tha fuck out. Go learn a good union trade other than sucking dick and taking a cock up your ass. Whores on the streets can do that for a lot less money and a bag of Crystal and crack. Mmmm yummy.

  9. DannyOcean

    You really can’t use the baseball analogy..Because for one the average baseball player plays professionally for 3 years whereas the average porn girl career is around 3 months..Let’s face it most porn girls (even ones making a lot of money) would leave porn in a heartbeat if they found true love or another career that was more stable. This is one of the reasons why a Union will not work.

  10. LurkingReader

    A union ‘could’ improve the quality of life for workers in this industry.

    Lots of good baseball union history tidbits here. My personal favorite is the Topps trading card deal as my grandparents supplied them with cardstock and wrapping materials.
    http://www.mlbplayers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=211042995&DB_OEM_ID=34000

    Some things to note…in the mid 60’s a nice 4 br house cost 25-40k. it wasn’t so much that the players wanted more money as their pay was enough to get them up and going in the morning. If the stakeholders had taken a lesser bottom line by allocating more to the cost of field (player)labor there never would have been a union.

    When the union was formed baseball already had a pension plan in place, teams paid for travel, uniforms, and many ‘work related’ things. Comparing bats & uniforms to tests its fair to say IEAU is starting where baseball was in the 40’s.

    A royalties class action sounds great but who is the defendant?
    Without question FSC has no authority over non-members and member response to moratoria indicates their members don’t recognize them as a governing body either. Suing and winning against a specific producer only obligates that producer even if does set a precedent for later battles or some decide it’s in their interest to pay royalties than try defending a suit.

    Perhaps now is the time when porn comes to a crossroads of recognizing the value of performer (worker) contributions to stakeholders bottom lines by investing in their workers.

    People here have been vocal about the quality of porn scenes. No doubt gonzo, amateur submissions and affiliate income have played a large part in this phenomena of quantity over quality. Some months ago when Axel Braun did the gofundme everyone was shocked at the budget. if he was paying all travel, room and board and carrying worker insurances aka a mainstream business model that budget may not have been out of line.

    Hopefully the union does come to make a difference. If they set standards for employers and workers it could attract workers ig dancers or escorts who prefer the work environment they feel they have more control over. Lastly IEAU has a Sisyphus like hill to climb compared to the baseball union since porn stakeholders have already monetized comparable options to Topps trading cards without sharing the wealth with the people who made it possible.

  11. LurkingReader

    @Karma

    yer scaring me…this sounds like you’re considering the merits of performer royalties. Along the lines of your idea nothing says long-timers can’t be paid a higher percentage with the expectation that their history will generate more sales. Starting with a base ‘in-the-door’ rate and negotiated incremental increases seems like a great place for stakeholders and performers to meet at a table.

  12. LurkingReader

    @BT

    agree that union could play a role in notifying performers of undeliverable royalties as long as they are maintaining their status as a member…..otherwise or after the states mandated time period for any other unclaimed royalty, paycheck, refund, or insurance payment etc. the payee has to forward the monies to their secretary of state for publication.

  13. LurkingReader

    @Toby

    “July 11, 1966. In St. Louis at the All-Star game Miller holds his first formal meetings, initially with the player reps and then a joint meeting with the owner reps. With their pension agreement expiring on March 31, the players are adamant that they maintain their existing percentage cut: 60% of World Series TV and radio money and 95% of All-Star game revenue (including gate receipts).”

    Still agree with your premise that increased labor costs could create a quality over quantity situation. Higher pay and better working conditions creates a worker demand and raises the bar via more choices for those hiring.

  14. Toby

    Interesting history, but not sure how that relates to the huge increase in TV revenue being responsible for most of the increase in player salaries. The other major factor being Curt Flood taking MLB to court over their Reserve Clause, and winning. That created free agency, which did not exist in baseball at that time.

    If they can get producers to agree to use only union performers, which is going to be a HUGE challenge, it will add another step for “fresh off the bus” talent to begin working.

  15. Karmafan

    Well the big complaint about royalties is that porn is a transient business. OK thats fine so if a actor stays in the business for a certain amount of time then they should be able to collect royalties. The girls that do 3 scenes and drop off the face of the earth would not be included.

  16. herculestheliger

    The entire entertainment industry is a transient business, and the non-adult sector seems to handle royalties/residuals just fine. There are always some people around for the long-run, but it’s not the majority. Keep in mind that your local hole-in-the-wall music venue is wary of having too many cover bands because ASCAP will come looking to collect. One of the BIG money-makers in adult is supposedly premium/PPV services in hotels. Does anyone here really think Hilton and other major hotel chains lack the ability to track purchases and handle basic accounting? If I had to guess, I would bet money that they’re already paying royalties/residuals for the non-adult television purchases. Bandcamp does the same thing for independent musicians with a very simple set-up, probably similar to something like clips4sale.

    And why does anyone other than performers care if the performers don’t come to collect their money? Are content producers calling up performers now to ask, “Hey, I’m worried about your financial situation because you didn’t cash our last check for 6 months. Is there anything we can do to help?”

  17. herculestheliger

    The bigger problem with the analogy is that Major League Baseball is one of a few legal monopolies; MLB is exempted – by law – from major antitrust regulations.

  18. LurkingReader

    Yes it is an interesting history, the link is posted blew. The parallels to me…players were looking for better working conditions and a more equitable relationship with stakeholders.

    Why not add union labels like RTA label?

  19. CrunkleSchwitz

    Put Dan Leal in charge of the FSC. He doesn’t take shit and doesn’t eat it too. Don’t eat the poo pooh.

  20. phyllisha

    RoyIties work in the U.K. For adult movies so it’s apparant and proof of a already working system that has been in place for years. So why them, And not us?

  21. phyllisha

    Mancrack.

    Your name pretty much says it all there. When I read that all I could think of saying was wow. Your are one tasteless mother [email protected]*# er.

    And as far as FSC and Sean Tomoksin they can harass the Union for as long as they want, we’re not paying anyways, so why would we care.

    This is exactly why we need this Union is needed so badly for this industry. Join now! Entertainmentadultunion.com

  22. BT

    Royalties should have nothing at all to do with longevity in the business – and, indeed, there is no connection between how long you’ve been in the business and whether you qualify for a royalty in mainstream television, film or musical recordings. It’s based on the popularity of your work. We’ve all heard the term “One Hit Wonder” with regard to musicians. The song writer who writes just one hit song and calls it a day still gets a royalty whenever the radio plays his song or you or I buy a CD or download it from iTunes. If a female performer shoots a scene for Brazzers or another site that proves hugely popular and is downloaded for years, it doesn’t matter that she only shoots that one scene. She’s compensated for her work.

    In mainstream, whether you are or are not a member has nothing to do with whether the union keeps in contact with you regarding benefits that you earned. I stopped paying union dues to the screenwriter’s guild sometime around the year 2000 because it was pretty clear that I wasn’t going to work in the industry again. I still get quarterly statements about my pension and life insurance benefits – I earned them and still qualify for them even though I’m no longer a dues paying member.

    That’s where longevity comes into play. Mainstream benefits are so generous that you have to be in the industry for a certain number of years in order to qualify. You have to make a specific minimum amount of money for five years in order to qualify for the pension benefit, for instance, even though you paid in on every job.

  23. LurkingReader

    @BT

    The union is the administrator of your pension and life insurance they are mandated by law to send you quarterly statements. Your dividends are reinvested into your pension/insurance so there is no need for them to send you a check or forward those monies to the secretary of state if they came back undeliverable.

    In a nutshell the payor doesn’t get to keep monies owed to a payee because the check comes back undeliverable or isn’t cashed….they forward the monies to the sec of state who becomes administrator.The sec of state publishes names and amounts due online (they used to publish the list quarterly in the legal notices of newspapers) to meet their fiduciary responsibility.

    Many employers have found out the hard way what happens when they don’t forward unclaimed paychecks (wages) to sec of state. Royalties are considered wages. A franchisee in hubby’s area hadn’t paid his fees and a bankruptcy audit showed he was carrying a line entry for 22k in unclaimed paychecks to keep his books balanced….he wound up in federal prison for wage theft.

    If the union processes royalty monies they will be bound by fiduciary regulations. They may or may not waive administrative fees for members just like any corporate or managed retirement account.

  24. MikeSouth

    I used baseball because its kind of associated with being all american…not unlike porn to some degree but it doesnt really matter if you look at baseball, mainstream, football or others the story is pretty similar across the board…. Im not saying a union WILL work, only that it could. I still think that performers as a rule don’t care enough about themselves to stand up and fight, much less care about each other. Funny thing in doing some research…yall know all of those no on Prop 60 things you see all over twitter…..turns out that less than 10% of them that are eligible are actually even registered to vote. SMFH

  25. ManCrack

    Phyllisha; Sorry love, but I I’m Female, not a Mother Fucker, I don’t fuck mothers, and or fuck people over for bullshit Union’s in a idiot filled porn industry. porn is gone and shot out. No Mo’ Money Honey.

  26. BT

    Sometimes I don’t do a very good job of explaining myself. As someone who was a member of one of the performing arts unions for over a decade, the Writers Guild of America East, the point I was trying to make was simply this. In mainstream, the union is the enforcer of contracts. When I would get an assignment to work on a television movie from a production company, the signed contract had to be filed with and approved by the WGAE before I could begin to work on the project. Writing contracts at least include structured payments: You get something like 25% for signing; 25% for turning in a treatment; 25% for a first draft; 25% for a polish. Each of those payments is recorded with the WGAE. As a writer, you also get residuals every time your movie is rebroadcast. Those payments are recorded with the WGAE. So, regardless of whether they are administering my pension and insurance as a matter of law, they also have a record of all payments owed me and paid to me. If you as a writer have a beef with a producer, you take it to the WGAE (or WGAW if you live in California) and they are your arbiter. Now, TV writers like me come and go, but the WGA keeps tabs. Every now and then, someone calls me just to make sure they have my correct contact info. So unless the writer is just a complete moron and says I want to live in a yurt off the grid and have nothing more to do with the money owed me, the WGA ensures that you get what’s coming to you.

    There’s no reason whatsoever that a porn union could not fulfill the same role in porn when it comes to residuals/royalties or any other benefits unless talent is just too stupid or irresponsible and refuses to update their information so they can get what is rightfully theirs.

    Thanks to Mike, I’ve been checking out the Rialto Report. If those guys can track down gals from the Golden Age, like Susan McBain, for interviews, I can’t believe a professional union couldn’t keep tabs on people who have earned money.

    That part of it shouldn’t be rocket science.

  27. LurkingReader

    @BT

    “IF” the union is processing royalties they will have to adhere to fiduciary regulations. The responsibilities are essentially the same regardless of what the account is called….pension, insurance, royalties or any other kind of income that can be considered wage income.

    I think we were looking at different sides of the same page though I may have confused matters by addressing the concern that undeliverable royalties would make some stakeholder fat wallets fatter.

  28. BT

    Again, apologies for not being clear. In mainstream, the union does not process royalties, and I am not suggesting that a porn union would process royalties in porn.

    In mainstream, porn is the arbiter of all contracts. Any contract signed by a performer, a writer, a director, a music director (and, I presume the trades, but don’t know), starts with the minimum rates, terms, benefits and, yes, residuals, established by the union. Its essentially a standard union contract. A producer can offer higher pay than the union minimum but it can’t offer less.

    As an example, it’s been nearly 20 years since I wrote a television movie, but back in the day, the minimum pay to a screen writer for a two hour television movie of the week was $38,000, payable in four installments that were a specific percentage of the total, based on milestones; an 18% contribution by the producer to the writer’s pension plan; and residuals of $25,000 each time the television move was rebroadcast after the original. That was the standard deal. Now, when I did my first project, even a first timer like me got a minimum of $50,000 – that was the going rate. But the union rate they had to adhere to was a minimum of $38,000.

    When I say that the union was the arbiter of all contracts, a writer or performer was not allowed to begin work on a project until their contract had been submitted to and approved by the union. Every contract was on file.

    It was – and is – up to the production company to make payments on time, including residuals (and agents hammer this too because they get a cut), but if the production company doesn’t live up to its part of the bargain – if the production company doesn’t pay the fee or doesn’t pay residuals, then you file with the union. They’ll work on enforcing it for you. For instance, if production companies are violating the rules, they will not approve future contracts and union members will not be allowed to work for them.

    The argument has been: Royalties, residuals, a piece of the pie for performers will never work in porn because too many performers are one time wonders.

    My argument, and this is all I have been trying to say, is that in mainstream, you have the same thing. You have someone like me who lives in a small town on the East Coast and who, through luck and pluck, was able to wrangle a scriptwriting gig out of a production company plus ABC way back in 1990 that turned into five years of regular screenwriting and a pretty good living – all in California. In 95 or 96, when the industry had changed, I went back to my old life of magazine journalism in a small town 3,000 miles from Los Angeles. Cut all ties to the industry, including leaving the union about 10 years ago. And yet, more than 25 years after my first gig, the union continues to keep track of me (I did get a residual check years after I stopped screenwriting); notifies me of my earnings history; tells me what my pension will be worth; and the death benefit on my union insurance policy.

    My point: If mainstream can keep track of me for 25 years, there’s no reason that a porn union can’t do the same thing for porn talent interested in collecting what they are due. And, if the union mirrors mainstream, where it approves contracts before the work begins, there is an incentive for production companies to act like real businesses and treat its performers according to union contracts, including residuals. If they don’t, no one will be allowed to work for them.

    Now, having said all of that, do I think it’ll work in porn? I have my doubts having nothing to do with the people running the union (and I know nothing and have no opinions). My doubt is based on the fact that porn companies really don’t give a crap about “rules” – heck, the whole ethos around porn is that we operate outside the normal rules of society – and too many performers are in it for a $500 check for giving a blow job. You’ll always have pirates and outlaws.

    But if performers are serious about this and if the porn union is serious about enforcement, there’s no technical reason it can’t work, including royalties. For instance, you promise a performer 1 cent every time their scene is watched on Brazzers.com. The latest scene by Synthia Fixx on Brazzers has 125,000 views. That’s $1,250 extra to Synthia who probably got paid $1,500 to begin with, since its anal. She has 3 scenes on Brazzers, with a total of 642,317 views, or an extra $6,432.17. In all likelihood that would double her income for those 3 scenes.

    Julia Ann has 55 scenes on Brazzers, the oldest, going back to 2008, has 532,000 views. The newest, from this past August, has 112,000 views. If I use an average, Julia Ann would have made an extra $177,100 for her work on Brazzers over the last 8 years, or an extra $22,135 a year. That’s for one studio with residuals. If you figure that people will continue to watch her work for sometime, she’d have a small income for some years after she retires. Phoenix Marie has 200 scenes on Brazzers. Her most recent has almost 358,000 views. Her first scene, from 2007, has 873,000 views.

    A penny might be too much, but even a half a penny a scene, residuals would add up for someone who makes a career out of porn like Julia Ann or Phoenix Marie.

  29. jilted

    Why not you? Beyond simple to answer, because you don’t have it written into your contracts. That would be one thing that any entertainment union would never stand for. See how many performers ever get hired if they insist on royalties, or residuals in their contract. This would be a frivolous lawsuit at this point, and who ever files it may end up paying the defendants court and lawyer costs.

  30. jilted

    Have to disagree Toby. Producers will simply keep hiring non-union performers, and any real union will not allow members to work with non members. They do the same thing with any performer who advocates for producer paid testing, and safety measures on set, They simply won’t get hired. Every single top performer could quit the business today, and production would not miss a beat. New “stars” would simply be created. They are as replaceable as batteries. And porn is not now, nor has it ever been anything close to a multi billion dollar industry. That original 14 billion dollar figure, so often repeated in the mainstream press from over 20 years ago was simply made up out of thin air by AVN magazine,,OUT OF THIN AIR! It was immediately debunked by Forbes magazine, but the press stuck with it. Filling out a survey at AIM years ago, a female performer who was easily one of the top 5 performers of the day, and is one of the top 20 performers of all time said she made,,,dancing, escorting, film combined $250,000.00 in her best year. Not even in the same ball park(pun intended) as any professional athlete.(not even a US soccer player)

  31. jilted

    Except an project like this would require a real ‘organization.’ With lawyers, cpa’s, a full time staff, an actual headquarters, with real offices, and a big enough BUDGET. Who in porn today has the ability, and up front money to put this together?

    This new union needs to stop thinking about these pie in the sky, unreal things that will never happen. Choose a few small battles that you might be able to win, and then build upon that. You can’t hit a grand slam until you get the bases loaded, and right now this new union is still inthe field playing defense, they are not even up to bat yet. To set up a royalty system would easily cost half a million dollars, if not more, and just the monthly operating expense of rent, employees, everyday bills that any business incurs to do the everyday tasks would cost thousands per month. And don’t even try to say that union dues would cover it,,,there aren’t that many performers in the US to even come close.

    UNION, choose some battles you can win, and for gods sake, show some balls, support the health and welfare of performers first, and issue a statement in support of prop 60. Then maybe you will get the support and assistance of some REAL big money donors!!!

  32. Toby

    I don’t think we really disagree…
    From my other comment, “If they can get producers to agree to use only union performers, which is going to be a HUGE challenge…”

  33. LurkingReader

    @BT

    Thank you for showing me more of your side of the page. No doubt WGAE does a great job keeping up with its current and lapsed membership. If IEAU follows suit keeping up with lapsed membership it still raises a few questions/potential issues if they aren’t administering royalty payments.

    If they are administering royalties the issues are covered under fiduciary regs. If they are not the question of info/data sharing comes into play. Its one thing to forward a notice to a lapsed member reminding them to update contact info. It’s another if the union is providing current contact info on demand to anyone who says they owe royalties to a performer.

    Hopefully Sabrina will share her experience and knowledge of how the EU processes royalties which could shed some light on how they address ‘one hit wonders’ and much more.

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