Timeline Compiled By

Tom Sito was born in New York City. An animator since 1975, he has worked in New York, Los Angeles, London and Toronto in every phase of animated film production. He has done commercials, educational films, and direction of children’s television series like He-Man and Masters Of The Universe, She-Ra and Fat Albert.

As an animator for Walt Disney Pictures, his credits included Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Aladdin, Fantasia Continued, The Lion King and Pocahontas. Co-directed the Warner Bros. feature Osmosis Jones. Tom has produced his own independent films and has taught animation at USC and California Institute of the Arts.

He is President-Emeritus of The Animation Guild, having served as president from 1992 to 2001 and is an outspoken advocate for the rights of artists. He is currently teaching at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

The Disney Strike, 1941

[ The 1930’s ] [ Screen Cartoonists Guild & Looney Tune Lockout ] [ The Disney Strike, 1941 ]
[ Warner Brothers Battle & Terrytoons Strike ] [ Local 839 chartered, 1952 ] [ The 50s through the 90s ]

The links above go to pages that contain a compilation of an exhibit tracing the history of labor unions in screen cartooning. The full exhibit is on display at our headquarters building at 1105 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, California 91505. The office is open Mondays through Fridays, from 8:30 am to 5 p.m.

The Disney Strike, 1941

The Mouse Factory proved to be the biggest challenge. Disney artists considered themselves the patricians of the industry, under Walt’s benevolent rule.

But anger over the long-promised profit sharing from Snow White, alienation over blunt maneuvers by Disney lawyer Gunther Lessing, and other conditions made the workers sympathetic to the call to unite.

Walt felt personally betrayed when Art Babbitt
Art Babbitt (right), his highest-paid animator, resigned as president of the Disney company union to join the Guild. Three days after Disney brazenly fired Babbitt, the Disney strike began on May 29, 1941.

The strike lasted for five weeks, forever tearing the social fabric of the studio.

FDR sent a Federal mediator, who found in the Guild’s favor on every issue. Walt left on a Latin American tour to ease tensions.

Fearing the loss of government contracts and the recall of bank loans, 
Disney signed and has been a union shop ever since.

Above: Looking north on Buena Vista, strikers picket the Disney main gate. Picketers camped out in the vacant lot across the street (where St. Joseph’s Medical Center is now located), and ate catered buffet meals contributed by sympathetic union restaurant chefs from Chadney and the Smoke House.