Walt Disney Animation Production Workers Want To Unionize, Disney Doesn’t Think They Can


Walt Disney Animation Production Workers have just launched a campaign to unionize under IATSE Local 839, The Animation Guild (TAG). About 80 production coordinators, production managers, and production supervisors want to unionize to ask for better wages, retirement, and sustainable career paths. Disney will not recognize this, allegedly claiming they might have a legal reason to deny it.

The production works and the union have put up a petition to try and push Disney/ Walt Disney Animation into recognizing them officially.  In the letter they say:

We are writing this letter to encourage Disney leadership to do the right thing and recognize the demand of Production Coordinators, Production Managers, and Production Supervisors to join IATSE Local 839, The Animation Guild (TAG). This is the same union that represents the artists and TDs we work alongside each and every day. The Walt Disney Company is a massive company with a legacy that spans 100 years. It is time for Disney to recognize the contributions that production workers make to ensure the creative, financial, and cultural success of Disney’s animated features and special projects. It’s time we have the protections of a union like our MPEG editors and artists and TD colleagues in the Animation Guild…..

……Currently, our compensation does not provide a living wage nor does it match the value of the work being performed to deliver these million and billion dollar films on schedule, on budget, and at the exceptional standard our great studio is known for. We want equity in our representation and to have access to the same fringe benefits as our artist colleagues.

Production Coordinators, Production Managers, and Production Supervisors advocate for our respective department of artists constantly, and it is past time that we advocate for ourselves to join TAG.

They conclude with demanding Disney do the “right thing” and recognize the union. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, it might not be that easy. Disney is citing the  National Labor Relations Act that these employees are considered “statutory supervisors” and would not be allowed to organize.

Under the NLRA a “statutory supervisor” is defined as :

The term “supervisor” means any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment.

TAG argues that they do represent other production staff at studios like Nickelodeon, ShadowMachine, Titmouse New York and Titmouse Los Angeles. They also represent staff at 20th Television Animation, which is now owned by Disney. However none of the smaller studios are considered a “feature studio.”

The IATSE International President, Matthey Loeb argues that Disney already employs the same type of workers that are covered by the union:

Disney already employs IATSE members as department heads and similar job titles across their business. This is a blatant attempt to undermine the collective bargaining rights of our members and to drive down standards for all workers in our industry. We’re not leaving anyone behind. We’ll see you at the NLRB.”

A National Labor Relations Board hearing will be taking place later this month.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, A friend S.

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