Production Workers At Shadowmachine L.A. Vote To Unionize Under The Animation Guild (Exclusive)
Production workers at L.A.’s Shadowmachine have become the fifth such group to vote to join The Animation Guild (TAG) IATSE Local 839 in recent months.
Before Shadowmachine, production workers at Titmouse N.Y., Rick and Morty, Titmouse L.A., and Solar Opposites had all voted to join TAG.
Production coordinator Katerina Agretelis (Bojack Horseman, Tuca & Bertie) and Clone High animation production manager Ryn Soorholtz (Final Space, Bojack Horseman) helped lead the push to unionize at Shadowmachine.
According Soorholtz, efforts really began to pick up at Shadowmachine when the #NewDealForAnimation started going viral. “Seeing the feelings and frustration that everyone in our industry was going through morph into the #NewDealForAnimation, it made everyone realize just how much support we have,” she told Cartoon Brew.
“The first time I heard about the possibility of a movement like this was probably over four years ago, but it went kind of quiet for a while,” recalled Agretelis. “Then when we heard the news that other studios were including production workers in their negotiations earlier this year, we really started to put some fuel on the fire to get it going.”
“The production worker community is a tight knit community,” Soorholtz agreed. “We move around studios so a lot of us had friends who worked at Titmouse L.A. and Rick and Morty when they voted to unionize. Seeing the momentum of the other studios and knowing that there have been people who have done this successfully is really inspiring,”
By mid-March, a core group of organizers at Shadowmachine had been established and were working closely with representatives of TAG on the next steps. However, Agretelis pointed out, it was important that those handling the vote were diligent in their efforts to keep all involved informed.
“We wanted to be careful. Sometimes people tend to, if they’re really excited about a cause, overestimate other people’s commitment to that cause. So, it was important that everybody was well informed and had all the information they needed to make a decision,” she said, noting the key role that representatives from TAG played in staying organized. “They gave us some key directions on how to move forward with the process and ensure we were successful.”
According to both Soorholtz and Agretelis, organizers always felt that the higher-ups at Shadowmachine had their back in the unionization effort.
“It always felt like the studio was supportive,” said Agretelis. “Even production people who were in line to move up in the next year or two and who won’t be covered by this unionization were supportive, which was huge and shows their commitment to changing the industry for the better.”