Animation Association urges higher wages in contract negotiations – The Hollywood Reporter

In 2018, the business representative and president of The Animation Guild celebrated the ratification of the new master agreement with an announcement that also served as a call to action. Affirming that members’ participation had increased that year, IATSE Local 839 leaders still noted that “much work remains to be done” in future contract discussions and asked More members participate in the coming years “so we can work together to achieve even more profits in the future.”

Three years later, as negotiations began over inheriting that 2018 contract, a social media campaign from members aimed at improving salaries for animation writers appeared to have worked. want that. Following the ratification of the controversial IATSE Basic Agreement (which must be done before TAG begins negotiations), in November TAG members launched hashtags #PayAnimationWriters advocating for bridging the gap salary between cartoon writers and real people.

Taking part from a book about other IATSE social media campaigns such as #IASolidarity and #IALivingWage, the animators explain the perennial salary disparity between TAG-insured and TAG-insured animation writers. Live-action writers are covered by the Writers Guild of America in posts that include the pound sign. That strategy has gained traction once again: The campaign since its inception trended at least twice in California on Twitter and IA Stories’ Instagram page — born out of Basic Deal negotiations by IA Stories. alliance, with approximately 167,000 followers – shared hashtag-supporting content. also.

Now that talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) will continue through December 2, TAG is raising the issue of what wages are viable in Hollywood even as they battle on multiple fronts for new gains in their latest master deal. While TAG members in this round mainly discussed pay parity for animation writers, as is typical for entertainment associations leading up to and between negotiations, most entries in The agenda is not disclosed. (Source TAG talked to The Hollywood Reporter prior to the start of a media shutdown at the start of negotiations on November 29. AMPTP declined to comment for this story.)

“We have more commitments, we have more support than ever before, so this seems like a very good time,” said TAG Writers Writers Committee co-chair and committee member. Madison Bateman negotiator said (DuckTales). “I think as much as we pushed #PayAnimationWriters, there is unity in the profession: We all want higher wages for all animators.”

However, forming a campaign around writers allows TAG to point out some obvious pay differences between comparable jobs. Although TAG members – some of them are also members of the WGA, including some animation writers and give them the same bare minimum as live-action writers – say the writers WGA writers working in live-action and animation both do the same job, but the pay differences are stark. As of May 1, 2021, an “animated storyteller” or “animated writer” covered by TAG has earned a weekly minimum of $2,064 working on a drag script series half an hour long, while WGA-affiliated TV writers make between $3,964 and $5,059 a week. When it comes to freelance writing for scripted half-hour series, TAG say its minimal writer as of May 1, 2021 is $9,099, while the WGA minimum ranges from $12,290 to $27,100 for the same time period. TAG writers also don’t get the primary balance like some so-called “online” unions (like SAG-AFTRA), members say.

Adding dual TAG and WGA member Len Uhley, a writer mainly working in animation, “We use the same software, we solve the same problems in terms of storytelling, structure, plot and characters. All the same “.

While the pay disparity with live-action writers has long been a point of frustration for TAG’s writers, the issue has become a sore point during the pandemic. COVID-19. “The fact that entertainment is mainly the foundation to prevent the pandemic, except for animation [and] The animation studios are largely still operating, and there are many of these companies that weather the pandemic that really shed more light on the contributions of animators. [make],” said Bill Wolkoff, a dual member of TAG and WGA who has worked on both real-life and animated projects. TAG’s Writers Crafts Committee, established after the union’s 2018 negotiations, also played a key role in problem-solving within the organization prior to this round of employer negotiations.

TAG members added that industry trends such as smaller episode orders, which have prompted animation studios to hire more and more freelancers, are causing relatively low minimums for members becomes an ever more pressing issue. Animators have become permanent freelancers, moving from job to job, not enjoying much leverage to negotiate beyond their bare minimum, Guild members said. Writers tweeting with the hashtag #PayAnimationWriters already mentioned Struggling to pay the rent or to afford monthly payments without getting involved in savings; discussed a self-proclaimed spouse of an animator delay vacation and have a second child to “maintain the grind.” An animation writer told CHEAP they feel they are lucky to be married to someone with the right health insurance because “our health insurance was available, but then it wasn’t”.

Mairghread Scott co-chairman, co-chair of TAG’s Writers Crafts Committee, Mairgread Scott, said: “A writer’s room made up of staff can help train a less experienced writer to bring perspective,” said Mairgread Scott. unique. No staff,” it said, “it puts a lot of pressure on screenwriters to hire only people they know can do the job reliably and quickly, and it’s silenced.” new and the kind of people that studios keep saying they want to hire.”

Even as TAG is tight-lipped about other key priorities in this round of talks, the union has hinted that it will fight for better compensation from streaming projects, much like the Locals. another of the IATSE did this past summer. “Small screen no longer means small budget. #Streaming is thriving and #animation is a big part of it. We deserve a better deal to reflect this growth! ” featured a sample social media post provided to members of the TAG press kit. Scott said that the craft beyond writing cartoons will have to contend with problems including tight schedules, “abused unit prices … and wages across the board that are unacceptable and unreasonable .” Collectively, the union is backing the writers’ campaign for better pay in part because “when a writer is hired on an animated show or sold on an animated show and that writer is 839, as long as the show is made in 839 jurisdictions, that will also be 839,” Scott added. “That’s what gives us our leverage in the union, and that’s what makes us strong in the unions.”

Of course, after a huge push on social media and an unprecedented strike authorization vote, the expected last-minute deal for the Basic Agreement that IATSE signed with AMPTP in October has split sharply turned members of 13 affected West Coast local unions. Although the deal was ultimately approved in a vote of delegates, it failed in the popular vote. TAG members say they’re not worried about the same sort of split in their Local. “I believe the Local 839 negotiating committee has the support of its members, and I think anyone hoping to find rifts in the group will not find them,” Uhley said. “I think everyone is on the same page. We want things to change. I think things haven’t changed, they’ve stayed the same for too long.”

Wolkoff noted that, prior to the negotiations, he was so impressed with how TAG was sticking with the membership that he decided to get involved more, over the phone, and assist with restoring the membership. “The challenge for the Animation Guild is that, unlike the WGA, the Animation Guild represents the many different crafts of animation and writers are just a part of it. I know the Animation Association is determined to get a better deal for all animators, not just writers,” he said, adding, “I feel confident that this will be a transformative year. action towards them. ”

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