Workers At Texas’ Powerhouse Animation Become First Group From A Right-To-Work State To Join The Animation Guild
On Monday, April 24, a supermajority of workers at Austin’s Powerhouse Animation Studios presented a letter to the company’s bosses seeking voluntary recognition to join The Animation Guild (TAG), Local 839. The group also filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold a unionization election if it becomes necessary.
What’s significant about this announcement? Monday’s news made history as it represented the first time that TAG will organize a campaign in a right-to-work state. It’s also just the third time that the organization is organizing a campaign outside of L.A. County. Previously, the group successfully organized campaigns at Titmouse New York and among workers at Tooning Out the News. Although most of TAG’s experience is in L.A. County, the organization says it’s working hard to come up with a regionally specific agreement for Powerhouse that will meet the market conditions of Texas’ animation industry.
What’s a right-to-work state? The term described states which have passed legislation that no individual can be forced to pay dues or fees to a labor union as a condition of their employment. That means it’s up to each individual employee whether or not to join a union, even though they would still be protected by any collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union.
Who will be represented by TAG? The Powerhouse Animation Studios bargaining unit includes 137 workers. Many of the employees work on popular animated series such as Netflix’s Castlevania and Masters of the Universe: Revelation. Powerhouse also operates a smaller studio in Los Angeles, which is already signed to a collective bargaining agreement with the Guild.
What do Powerhouse employees want? According to a TAG release, Powerhouse employees are looking for improved wage equality and job security protections.
What are they saying? Powerhouse Studios character artists Suzanne Sharp said:
Every one of our co-workers is integral to the success of Powerhouse, and we all put so much passion and effort into making it happen every day. We have proven ourselves to be great assets to our clients. We want to empower leadership to negotiate on more equal ground with our clients and secure contracts that are fairer and that meet our needs as an animation studio that consistently creates high-quality art. I’m so proud to be here and so proud of us all for confirming such an overwhelming supermajority of support to form our Union with TAG.
Powerhouse production manager Ryan Arrington added:
I’ve had the opportunity to work on so many different projects here with some truly wonderful people, and I’m excited to see the studio come together to grow in an open and mindful way that supports the team and their needs inside and outside the workplace. Together we can push for better contracts that support a healthy work-life balance, career training and growth, fair pay and wages, and better job security for our staff.
Pictured at top: Castlevania