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Powerhouse Animation has voluntarily recognized a bargaining unit of 129 artists and production workers at the Texas-based studio.

This marks the first time that animation workers will be represented by The Animation Guild in a right-to-work state. In a right-to-work state, 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 employee whether or not they decide to join a union, even though they would still be protected by any collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union.

Powerhouse’s decision to recognize the bargaining unit also means that Texas becomes the second state outside of California to have TAG-represented animation workers.

Powerhouse Animation artists have worked on numerous popular animated series including 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.

Now that the studio has recognized the workers’ bargaining unit, Powerhouse and TAG will begin negotiations on a first collective bargaining agreement.

In a release, TAG business representative Steve Kaplan said:

Representing the Powerhouse artistic and production staff further solidifies The Animation Guild as the Union setting the standard for workplace conditions in the animation industry. I also want to commend Powerhouse leadership in reaching a voluntary recognition agreement. I look forward to building on our established good relationship in Los Angeles to reach a first contract with the Austin studio.

Powerhouse CEO and chief creative officer Brad Graeber added:

As a studio founded by animators who wanted to improve the industry, Powerhouse has always tried to put our incredible team of artists first. We have strived to be a transparent and fair company that does our best to balance the work and life of artists in an industry that often abuses talent. When we learned that our staff wanted to organize, we worked with the union to recognize their organization in a way that was fair for our very unique studio in Texas.

Character artist and Powerhouse Organizing Committee member Suzanne Sharp said:

It’s such a special moment for me personally to see our coworkers’ commitment and compassion for each other, collaborating with the studio to become the best that it can be so that animation workers can create the work that we love so much. We’re looking forward to sitting down with leadership to make that path together.

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