History was made this week when a group of 10 Walt Disney Animation Studios remote workers in six states filed to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839.
The workers requested union recognition from the studio and have filed with the National Labor Relations Board for an official unionization election.
This is the first time remote workers have attempted to unionize with TAG, and according to the union, the movement marks a significant shift in IATSE and TAG’s strategies as the organizations work to protect as many animation workers as possible.
In a release, TAG explained:
This landmark organizing development sets a precedent for the animation industry, recognizing the importance of adapting labor agreements to the evolving landscape of work. The Animation Guild and IATSE are proud to support their members in achieving a fair and inclusive framework that respects the realities of a remote working environment.
TAG organizer Ben Speight added:
TAG’s remote worker organizing campaign is motivated by a basic principle—artists and writers who do the same work for the same studios should have the same rights and standards on the job, regardless of where they live. Walt Disney Animation Studios and other union studios in L.A. have shown for years that world-class animation work can continue to be done remotely.
The Animation Guild has invited all remote animation workers interested in union membership – regardless of studio – to contact an organizer by visiting the TAG website here. There is also a detailed FAQ for anyone looking for more information.
2023 has been a landmark year for The Animation Guild. The union has long represented artists in Los Angeles, but recently, it has extended its geographic footprint into New York, Texas, Puerto Rico, and Virginia.