On this (audio only) episode of the Nerd & Tie podcast, we celebrate Wonder Woman‘s victory at the box office, give a spoiler-free review of Spider-Man: Homecoming, ponder HBO developing a Watchmen television show, and consider the ramifications of Phil Lord and Chris Miller getting booted from the (still untitled) Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film. Then we hit the con scene, where Titan Fan Con messed up big time, and Emerald City Comicon finally settled their “minions/volunteer” lawsuit.
This is also the first episode recorded from the new production studio, so please forgive our settling in.
The legality of volunteering for “for profit” conventions is a complicated issue, and one that’s caused some headaches for con organizers. Notably, as we reported last year, a class action lawsuit was filed against Emerald City Comicon over their ‘minions’ (the term the con used for convention workers) not being paid while working for the con’s old, pre-ReedPop acquisition management.
Well, it looks like that lawsuit has now been settled.
In the agreement, Emerald City Comicon has agreed to pay out $493,227.84. That number includes the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees ($123,300), $5000 to the plaintiff, and additional funds to pay an administrator to dispense the money. The rest will be paid out to people who worked for Emerald City Comicon in 2014 and 2015, and applications and necessary forms can be found here.
As you’d expect, Emerald City Comicon doesn’t admit to any wrong doing in the case. So while the threat of a lawsuit does seem like an obvious deterrent to for profit shows using unpaid labor, it doesn’t really change the legal playing field at all. The writing on the wall seems obvious though — if you’re running a for profit show, you need to pay your workforce.
On this episode of Nerd & Tie we discuss the forthcoming return of the old school Cybermen to Doctor Who, how Logan is a film that finally does Wolverine justice, Twitch’s decision to stream all 831 episodes of Power Rangers, and then we dive into the con scene.
And we dive deep.
It’s a bit complicated, because comic writer Tom Taylor won’t do US based cons anymore, Phoenix Comicon sent out a third party survey that got weird, Anime Fan Fest has called it quits, STX Brazos Comic Con is incommunicado with its debtors, and the internet lost its sh*t because a small collectibles show called Elite Con banned cosplay.
And for some reason, we didn’t have anything readable in the mailbag. That hasn’t happened for a while.
Current writer of Marvel’s All New Wolverine comic Tom Taylor has canceled his appearance at this week’s Emerald City Comicon. The Australian based writer announced the cancellation in a post to his facebook page, and also stated that he will no longer be accepting invitations to US based conventions.
The reason for this is because of the difficultly international travelers have been facing entering the United States since President Donald Trump took office. In his statement Taylor specifically said:
There have been reports of interrogation, phone data downloads, requests for social media accounts, returns and five-year travel bans and everyone from children to the elderly being detained. All of this has many people I’ve spoken to reconsidering or cancelling their US travel plans.
I’ve had friends and people I work with suggest I leave my phone at home, or delete my twitter account for a month before I come.
I refuse those terms.
My twitter account isn’t complimentary towards the current administration, but it’s far from inflammatory and shouldn’t need to be scrutinized to gain entry to a country where free-speech is so highly valued.
Taylor goes on to say that even if he himself, as a straight, white man, might not be subjected to these things, he can’t stand the thought of getting on to a fifteen hour flight and worrying his family while they wait to hear from him.
Honestly? I have a hard time blaming the guy. I also wouldn’t be surprised if more and more non-American convention guests decided to start staying away from U.S. based events.
On this episode of Nerd & Tie, CBS and Paramount have decided to settle the Axanar lawsuit , there’s a bit of Captain America controversy, Geoff Johns has been put in charge of the DCEU, Emerald City Comicon is getting sued, Anime Expo reverses Background check policy for vendors, Space City Comic Con has a bizarre guest/vip pass fiasco on a massive scale, and our roadshow continues to hit more cons!
And we read your letters too!
(Correction: In this episode we mistakenly refer to a set of proposed fan film guidelines as endorsed by CBS and Paramount — these guidelines are actually the ones Axanar’s producers are proposing to CBS and Paramount as a part of their settlement)
A former volunteer has filed a class action lawsuit against Emerald City Comicon, claiming that the convention owes them wages for time worked at the for-profit convention. They claim that the event treated “minions” (the con’s term for their workers) like employees instead of volunteers at their 2014 and 2015 conventions.
The legality of volunteering for for-profit companies is a complicated question, but the state of Washington in theory doesn’t allow it. ReedPOP, who recently took over ECCC, appear acutely aware of this, as they began paying workers with the 2016 event.
How this pans out could set a precedent for for-profit conventions in the state of Washington, and it’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out.