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 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 pm.
The earliest attempts to organize animation studios, at Iwerks in 1931 and Van Beuren in 1935, were unsuccessful. In 1935, Sadie Bodin, inker and scene planner at Van Beuren, was fired for her union activities and became the first person to picket an animation studio. The Wagner Act, making it illegal to fire someone for wanting a union, was not yet in force.
In 1936, the Commercial Artists and Designers Union (CADU) set out to organize the Max Fleischer Studios (best known for Popeye and Betty Boop), and other shops in
In 1937, after Fleischer refused to recognize their union and fired fifteen artists for complaining, the Fleischer artists “hit the bricks” for the first cartoonists’ strike. After five months of noisy boycotts and demonstrations, Paramount forced Fleischer to sign with the CADU. This was the first union contract in animation.
Fleischer retaliated by moving his operation to Florida, a state with a strong anti-union bias. To lure artists to Florida, Fleischer had to pay the highest salaries in the business. The costs incurred fighting the union broke the company, and Paramount took over and moved it back to New York where it became Famous Studios.