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After protracted negotiations, an intense social-media campaign and its first rally in decades, The Animation Guild has reached a new tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
The deal, announced on Friday, provides wage increases and “significant gains for animation writers,” makes changes to the contract’s treatment of “New Media” (which encompasses streaming platforms), adds Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday and creates a Labor-Management Cooperative Committee to “address studio-specific issues” and to pave “a path forward for Union-covered remote work,” the Guild says. It’s unclear at this point how many key issues raised by the #NewDeal4Animation social-media campaign that members began even before talks commenced on Nov. 29 of last year have been addressed. The AMPTP confirmed the deal on Friday.
The agreement was struck on Friday, according to the Guild. The tentative deal will now go to members for a ratification vote, which will take place in late June.
“I am incredibly proud of The Animation Guild members who volunteered their time and energy to the Negotiations Committee,” TAG business representative Steve Kaplan said in a statement. “The proposals we brought to the employers focused on making the work lives of our members better, and we have made significant progress towards achieving those goals. A #NewDeal4Animation does not stop today, we will continue to fight for the rights and benefits our members deserve, as well as ensuring all animation workers across the U.S. can use their collective voice to make similar change.”
TAG negotiates separately from the 13 West Coast Locals covered under IATSE’s Basic Agreement, whose latest contract was narrowly ratified by delegates in November 2021, but does tend to share certain elements with that contract due to pattern bargaining. TAG and other IATSE Locals also share health and pension plans; the new Basic Agreement deal infuses $370 million into those plans over the course of that three-year agreement.
Prior to the negotiations period, TAG members launched the #PayAnimationWriters hashtag to focus attention on the disparity between minimum rates for Animation Guild writers and writers working in both animation and live-action for the Writers Guild of America. (The WGA covers some animation writing work, such as writing on The Simpsons.) As part of that campaign, TAG stated that their writers make 26 to 66 percent less per freelance script for a half-hour scripted series than live-action WGA writers and at least around $1,900 to $2,995 less per week as staff writers on half-hour scripted series.
Guild members also launched a #NewDeal4Animation campaign social-media campaign, which involved animation workers sharing stories of financial difficulty and work struggles on social media, mirroring that of previous IATSE solidarity efforts this year. Like #IASolidarity and #IALivingWages, the #NewDeal4Animation campaign focused attention on a bread-and-butter issue and gained attention on Twitter with the use of memes and GIFs.
This round of negotiations, color designers in the Local also indicated that they were seeking pay parity with workers that slot under the “Animation” section of TAG’s contract, such as character/prop design, background layout and background paint, which have the same pay scale minimums. “Color Design is the sole exception, being relegated to the archaic ‘Ink And Paint’ section with a 14.4% lower minimum rate,” one widely-circulated petition for TAG stated. The same petition stated schedules and pay are key issues for story artist members and the end to unit-rate pay was a priority of timing directors. Prior to negotiations, TAG indicated that, like other IATSE Locals did in their negotiations earlier in the year, it would be seeking greater compensation for streaming projects in this round of talks.
During the prolonged period of negotiations, industry figures including Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse writer and producer Phil Lord, Nightmare Alley director Guillermo del Toro, Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Adam Ruins Everything creator Adam Conover and Corpse Bride writer John August came out in support of TAG in its talks.
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