The Animation Guild has voted to ratify a new three-year contract with Hollywood’s studios and streamers that establishes new job tiers for animation writers.
87 percent of guild members who voted used their ballots to ratify the agreement, while 13 percent voted against ratification. It’s unclear what percentage of guild members actually voted this year, but at the very least, there were three times as many voters compared to the last agreement — the likely result of Guild leadership stressing the importance of voting, as low turnout can “diminish our power as a unified organization.”
“This ratification vote shows that the membership has acknowledged the incredible work of our negotiations subcommittees and dedicated themselves to continuing the work. While we achieved significant gains, we were not able to reach all the priorities we set out to achieve and that our members deserve,” TAG business representative Steve Kaplan said in a statement. “The Local has dedicated itself to member engagement and open discussions about how to achieve those goals, and the membership has responded by ratifying this agreement and agreeing to support efforts to build our strength as a Union and community to give us greater leverage in the future.”
The new agreement features numerous changes regarding multiple issues, especially regarding wages. Guild members will receive 3 percent minimum wage increases annually over the course of the contract, with the pay bumps retroactive to Aug. 1. Elsewhere, freelance unit rates for timers will increase by 5 percent in the first year and nearly 5 percent in the second and third years, while color designers’ minimum rates will increase by 4 to 12 percent beyond the Guild’s overall minimum wage bump, depending on their role.
Animation writers will now be sorted into different job tiers — “Level 1,” “Level 2,” and “Supervising” writers will receive pay bumps, while more junior, “associate” animation writers will be lower-paid, though this structure allows for career progression.
Meanwhile, the Guild secured new wage minimums for high-budget “new media” (i.e. streaming) series that had previously been negotiable, whereas now, the new rates are “equal to the current rate less 15%,” per the Guild, which also made it a point to address remote work. The new contract allows Guild members who were hired in Los Angeles to work outside of L.A. County, or even California, so long as they receive permission from their employer.
The new contract also calls for the formation of a “Labor-Management Cooperative Committee” that will meet twice a year to discuss labor issues that don’t fall under collective bargaining, such as remote work. Finally, the agreement designates MLK Day as a holiday and amends parental leave to include instances when Guild members need to care for sick family members or are recovering from their own medical issues.
Guild members voted online and by phone between June 20 and July 1, and in return for some of the gains they made with the new contract, they agreed to “withdraw the pending grievances against Fox Animation Television, Inc.” and relinquish “all known and unknown claims regarding the use of the classification of Color Designer” prior to the agreement’s ratification.