The third day of the Animation Guild’s contract negotiations with the AMPTP are underway. The talks Wednesday come in the wake of IATSE’s deal for a new film and TV contract, which was narrowly ratified amid growing discontent among IATSE members over pay and working conditions.
The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 – known as TAG – bargains separately from IATSE’s other Hollywood locals but is subject to the “pattern bargaining” established in the recent deal between IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which included better terms for streaming shows and 3% pay raises in each year of the contract. The start of TAG’s contract talks had been set to begin in June but were postponed until Monday to allow IATSE and the AMPTP to wrap their negotiations.
Going into the talks, TAG leaders told their members that “Because other IATSE unions begin their negotiations before us, we can benefit from ‘pattern bargaining,’” which they explained “refers to gains made by another union that can also benefit The Animation Guild. When employers agree to a change that could benefit members of more than one Union, other IATSE Unions are often able to incorporate this change into their respective Collective Bargaining Agreements as well.”
Yesterday, on “Tag Tuesday,” Local 839 members, wearing TAG T-shirts, took to social media to show their solidarity. “It’s #TAGTuesday! And day 2 of our negotiations,” a member posted on the guild’s website. “We are not paid the same as our live action counterparts, and when it comes to productions for streaming, we can be paid even less, even when our work kept the studios afloat.”
“It’s happening THIS WEEK!!!” posted another member. “Our @animationguild is fighting for better wages, New Media and the benefits that we artists have earned many times over. #NewDeal4Animation.”
Animation writers covered by the contract are paid considerably less than writers of live-action and animated shows covered by the Writers Guild, and a mere 3% annual pay raise is not what they’re looking for. Going into the talks, TAG leaders said that the goal “in negotiations is to push for a more equitable contract for animation writers, and to ensure that both staff writers and short-term writers are afforded appropriate pay and benefits.”
“Working in cartoons might be fulfilling a childhood dream for some, but that dream shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip for a giant discount,” an animation writers said on Facebook. “Passion should be valued as something special that is being brought to the table. I have worked on a few shows, and every writing room is different, but whether it’s for kids, or adults, live action, or animation, or both, it’s the same job! Writing is writing! When the studios, streamers and networks are making billions, their workers should at least be able to count on putting away a little savings.”
Better pay on streaming shows is another bone of contention, as it was in IATSE’s recent contract negotiations. Going into the talks, Local 839 said that its goal “in negotiations is to push for a more equitable contract for workers on streaming productions.”
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