Production workers at The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad! have filed to join the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, and begin collective bargaining for their first union contract. “Together, they boast more than 750 years of industry experience in animation,” the guild said. “It’s time they receive the benefits and improved work conditions they deserve.”
The move to unionize comes after a May 26 request by a super majority of the workers to be voluntarily recognized. Workers in the bargaining units include the shows’ production managers, production supervisors, production coordinators, writers’ assistants, production assistants, associate producers, office assistants and IT supervisors. The shows’ animators are already covered by the guild’s contract.
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According to the guild, attorneys representing the three production companies responded to its request by stating that the productions’ parent studio, 20th Television Animation, was not yet prepared to voluntarily recognize the entire unit as proposed by guild and asked for additional time to review.
Since voluntary recognition has not yet been reached, the guild filed petitions for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board on June 1 for workers at The Simpsons and on June 2 for those employed at American Dad! The guild says it will file an NLRB petition on Friday on behalf of those employed on Family Guy.
Statements provided by the guild show the need for union protection.
Jason Jones, a longtime animatic and timing production supervisor at American Dad!:
“Those of us who have been working in animation production for many years take pride in knowing that we are an integral part of the longevity and evolution of our shows, right alongside the artists that we work with. Even though we meet the same tight deadlines and work the same long hours, we are aware that we do not share the same basic protections as the artists we spend those hours with. We deserve the same respect and dignity as our fellow union-protected workers.”
Andee Kiraly, a design production assistant at Family Guy:
“I’ve chosen to organize because I truly love my job and want to improve the quality of my team’s working environment. Production roles are often viewed as steppingstone jobs, but I look at our shows and I see production crew who have been here for 10+ or 15+ years. These aren’t steppingstone jobs. These are careers and they deserve to be treated as such.”
Ashley Cooper, a production manager at The Simpsons:
“The many production staff members are also trained artists or hold a bachelor of fine arts. We rely on that education and training to do our jobs. It is time we were included in The Animation Guild so we can have the same quality health care, pensions, and transparency in compensation that our counterparts currently enjoy.”
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