Walt Disney Animation Studios Production Workers Launch Union Drive with IATSE


Readers, you have followed and read what this website has to offer and what it stands for, Standing up for Artists and Creator’s Rights. It is mentioned in every Creator Spotlight Interview, and today’s report is no different. Especially in a case like this, when it comes to forming a Union.

According to a new article from The Hollywood Reporter’s Katie Kilkenny, The Animation Guild has its sights set on unionizing Walt Disney’s Animation Studios Production Workers, a move that the Organizers are saying that the House of Mouse is resisting.

Like most companies that say they appreciate their workers and preach the Importance of Standing Up for What You Believe In or We Treat Our Workers Like Family Slogan, they don’t follow through, especially when it comes to companies like The Walt Disney Company.

IATSE Local 839 revealed on Wednesday that the Union is attempting to form a bargaining unit composed of around 78 production coordinators, production supervisors, and production managers at the Enchanto and Wish Studio. According to the Union, the Studio has denied its request to voluntarily recognize the group of workers, preferring a National Labor Relations Board Election, and is attempting to exclude production supervisors and production managers from the group, arguing that they work as managers. The Guild coming off an aggressive run of production-specific organizing drives at shows (Rick and MortyFamily Guy) and studios (Nickelodeon, ShadowMachine).

“They are claiming that production managers and production supervisors are statutory supervisors under the National Labor Relations Act, meaning that they are excluded from the law that grants people the right to organize union.”

Allison Smartt, TAG Organizer

The union’s position on this situation is that these workers are not statutory supervisors. The Animation Guild filed for an NLRB Election on Monday and has produced a petition that is calling for Disney to do the right thing and voluntarily recognize the IATSE and its Local 839, The Animation Guild as the exclusive representative for the group.

Conversations about unionizing among the groups began in the winter of 2022 and culminated in workers seeking voluntary recognition from management nearly a year later, in February 2023. In an attempt to unionize, worker organizations are seeking to improve pay and gain portable healthcare that will travel with them from job to job. Production Coordinator Maggie Hughes issued a statement, this is what she had to say in her statement:

“For the majority of us, this is our long-term career path; however, the current value tied to production workers does not reflect our worth, we produce and deliver some of the most profitable franchises at one of the oldest animation studios in the world, it’s unreasonable that production workers can’t create a sustainable, comfortable future.

Maggie Hughes, Production Coordinator

The Disney Animator Strike of 1941

This isn’t the first time the NLRB has been involved with problems in The Walt Disney Company. In 1941, Disney Animators went on strike, angry at inequalities of pay and privileges at a non-unionized Walt Disney Productions. This led to a response from Walt Disney in the form of firing many of their animators, which would eventually be resolved when the National Labor Relations Board asked Disney to sign a union contract and he agreed.

“Even though I love my job, I regularly must consider if I should instead find a job with better pay, better hours, better benefits, and a more viable career path forward. Joining TAG gives me hope that I’ll no longer have to consider leaving my dream job in order to live comfortably.”

Shannon Henley, Production Coordinator

According to the Union, The Animation Guild already represents production supevisors and production managers on projects that include Family Guy, The Simpsons, American Dad, and Solar Opposites (Which is produced by 20th Television Animation, a company owned by Walt Disney), and workplaces such as Nickelodeon, ShadowMachine, Titmouse New York and Titmouse Los Angeles. If TAG is successful in its organizing drive, the Walt Disney Animation Studios will be the first feature studio where it has organized production workers.

An NLRB hearing is scheduled for later this month, IATSE International President, Matthew Loeb issued a statement:

“Disney already employs IATSE members as department heads and similar job titles across their business. This is a blatant attempt to undermine the collective bargaining rights of our members and to drive down standards for all workers in our industry. We’re not leaving anyone behind. We’ll see you at the NLRB.”

Matthew Loeb, IATSE International President

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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