Animation workers at Titmouse Vancouver have voted nearly unanimously to unionize all of their animation production jobs, putting them on the path to becoming the first studio in Canada to achieve that distinction. [UPDATE: Animators at Oasis Animation in Montreal voted to unionize last November through the CSN labor organization, however in that instance, only animators voted for unionization, not the studio’s entire creative staff.]
An incredible 98% of Titmouse workers voiced their preference to join The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 938, in a vote that took place on October 8th. Eighty-seven percent of the studio’s workers participated in the vote.
“Today, workers at Titmouse Vancouver sent a clear message; there is strength in the union,” said IATSE International president Matthew D. Loeb. “Animation workers in Los Angeles have benefited from representation by the IATSE for years and we look forward to representing animation workers in Canada.”
Added Vanessa Kelly, media spokesperson for The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 938, “There has been enthusiasm in Vancouver to form an animation union for years. This overwhelming mandate from Titmouse workers is part of a groundswell across our industry. This vote is the first step in acknowledging animation workers as vital members of our industry, deserving a voice in shaping and improving it. The courage of Titmouse workers made this first step possible.”
The watershed moment will undoubtedly encourage workers at other Canadian studios to follow in the path of Titmouse’s workers. Vancouver, as we’ve previously profiled, is a powerhouse on the Canadian animation scene, employing thousands of animation workers in 2d television, feature cg, gaming, and vfx. Its talent base rivals other major global hubs of animation production.
IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts, has for the last 68 years operated The Animation Guild, Local 839, which represents animation workers in Los Angeles. Their efforts have provided animation workers in L.A. the highest standard of living for industry workers anywhere in the world.
IATSE will now work with Titmouse management and workers to negotiate a collective agreement. It encourages workers across the Canadian animation industry to contact them if they want to be put in touch with an organizer to begin discussions about forming a union at an animation studio. The union says, “As we have seen with Titmouse Vancouver – it is possible!”
Titmouse opened its studio in Vancouver in 2013 and at last count, employed over 300 workers at that location. It also operates multiple studios in Los Angeles, as well as another satellite in New York City. Recent Titmouse Vancouver tv productions including Captain Underpants, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh, and Archibald’s Next Big Thing.
Image at top: Titmouse Vancouver workers listen to studio co-founder Chris Prynoski give a talk in 2018. Photo by Ben Kalina.