Last October, animation workers at Titmouse Vancouver voted to unionize, voicing their preference to join The Canadian Animation Guild, IATSE Local 938. They have now broken ground again by ratifying their union’s first animation agreement in Canada.
The four-year agreement includes defined overtime procedures, increased wage minimums, improved annual wage increases, a 15% premium for employees taking on supervisory duties, increased sick/personal days (and the ability to take half-days), and enhanced RRSPs (retirement savings plan in Canada) with a lower fee structure. It covers around 200 workers.
In all, 96.9% of workers voted in support of the new agreement. Last year, 87% of workers took part in the vote about unionization, and more than 98% of those voted in favor.
The ratification is a momentous event in Canada’s animation industry, which remains almost entirely unorganized. Montreal’s Oasis Animation is the exception: the studio reached an agreement with 22 members of its animation team in June.
Entertainment union IATSE has long represented L.A.’s animation workers through The Animation Guild, Local 839. Local 938 was recently launched for their Canadian counterparts. As well as representing Titmouse Vancouver’s workers, the union has provided free legal counsel to former staff of shuttered studios MPC Vancouver and Tangent Animation.
Vancouver, as we’ve previously written, 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 that of other major global animation hubs. That a studio of Titmouse Vancouver’s size has successfully unionized will likely set a precedent in the industry.
IATSE international representative Jeremy Salter said in a statement: “Animation workers across Canada need better working conditions. Workers are tired, underpaid, and need overtime protections. Forming a union is the strongest way to address these issues.”
Titmouse opened its studio in Vancouver in 2013; it also operates multiple studios in L.A., as well as another satellite in New York City. Titmouse Vancouver’s tv productions include Captain Underpants, Star Trek: Lower Decks, The Harper House, The Midnight Gospel, Big Mouth, and Arlo the Alligator Boy.
Image at top: “Star Trek: Lower Decks”