After coming perilously close to its first strike since 1945, the below-the-line union IATSE ratified an accord with producers in November, 2021. The new Basic and Videotape Agreements covered most, but not all of the locals under the IA umbrella.
One of the locals that was not included is The Animation Guild, Local 839 (TAG), which negotiates separately from the IA as a whole. After many months of sporadic negotiations, the union announced last week that it had reached a tentative contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The former contract formally expired in July, 2021 and was extended as the AMPTP turned its attention to negotiations with the other 13 West Coast IATSE locals and discussions regarding changes to COVID safety protocols.
One key goal of the negotiations was to narrow the pay gap between animation writers and those working on live action shows under WGA contracts, which TAG pegs at 26 to 66 percent less per half hour script. The union also sought gains in recognition of technological change. In addition to greater compensation for streaming projects, similar to what IATSE won in its negotiations, it is moving color designers out of the archaic “ink & paint” job category and into “animation” with its higher base rates. As much animation work is done remotely, a trend accelerated during the pandemic, the contract also provides union protections for remote workers. The AMPTP also agreed to recognize new job categories in the bargaining unit.
The deal followed a period of activism by union members, including live rallies and a social media campaign built around the hashtag #NewDeal4Animation.