Members of Canada’s first-ever animation union staged a protest outside their studio, Montreal’s Oasis Animation, on Friday afternoon. The workers are demanding better working conditions and accusing their employer of going back on agreements.
The Oasis Animation Workers Union was set up in November 2019, following a historic vote for unionization among the studio’s animators — a first in Canada. The 20-odd animators are now negotiating their first contract, with bargaining talks having begun last summer. The union says the talks are going too slowly and the studio is acting in bad faith.
Animators at Montreal’s Oasis Animation (Arthur, F is for Family) demonstrated outside the studio this afternoon. They claim that negotiations are moving too slow, and management is going back on already-agreed upon points. Story to come. pic.twitter.com/AWnGUm7dh3
— cartoonbrew.com – Animation News (@cartoonbrew) April 16, 2021
“We had managed to settle some important non-monetary issues over the past few months but now the employer is going back on some of the points that had already been agreed upon,” said union president Tamarind King in a statement. “We find this tactic disrespectful and in bad faith, to say the least.”
The union is calling for “clear recall and layoff procedures, full recognition of workers’ seniority, curtailing of the employer’s arbitrary power, and an end to salaries that claim to be merit-based but lack any transparent evaluation process.” It is proposing a 3% per year increase, four paid sick days per year, and five paid floating days off.
“If Oasis wants to remain an industry player, it has to be able to attract and retain people,” said King. “Currently, Oasis Animation only commits to providing the bare minimum that the Act respecting labor standards requires. We believe that our reasonable monetary demands would help in this regard.” The next bargaining date is set for Monday, April 19.
A spokesperson for Oasis Animation provided the following statement to Cartoon Brew about the unionization push at its studio:
Oasis Animation is a leader in the 2d industry and is known internationally for the quality of its talent. We are currently negotiating with our Quebec-based animators to establish a collective agreement to govern their working conditions. Our wish is to respect the process of the negotiation so will not discuss publicly the details of the clauses contained in the collective agreement. We fully respect the right of our animators to demonstrate today.
Founded in 2003, Oasis is a service studio specialized in 2d animation production. Series it has worked on include Netflix’s F Is for Family (image at top) and Kulipari, and PBS’s Arthur. The Oasis Animation Workers Union was launched through the labor organization CSN (Confederation of National Trade Unions).
Canada’s animation industry remains largely unorganized, although there has been movement toward unionization since 2019. In October last year, a large majority of animation workers at Titmouse Vancouver voted to unionize all their animation production jobs. Specifically, they voiced their preference to join The Canadian Animation Guild, IATSE Local 938. (The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 represents animation workers in L.A. — the number “938” was chosen in Vancouver in homage to “839.”)
According to the CSN, a third animation studio in the Atlantic provinces of Canada is currently taking steps towards unionization.