New to the Guild? Or a long-time member in need of a few quick answers?
Here, you’ll find responses to a list of frequently asked questions.
Get hired by a Union employer. Once you are working for a signatory studio (an employer who has signed a Union agreement), you will join the Guild and start benefiting from being a part of a Union. The Animation Guild will receive notification of your employment and send you a membership packet (it might take 3 to 4 weeks to arrive), and we will guide you through the membership initiation process. If you’ve been working at a Guild signatory facility for more than 30 days and you haven’t heard from us, email our Member Operations Manager, Leah Semiken at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is your employer not a part of the union? We can help organize production artists, writers and technicians who have expressed an interest in being part of The Animation Guild. Visit https://animationguild.org/start-a-union/ to learn more.
Usually employers are proud to say that they are a “Union studio” or that the job they are posting is a “Union job.” If you don’t see such an indication, you should feel comfortable asking the studio representative. You can also check the Studio List on our website, which lists most of the employers signed to our Collective Bargaining Agreement.
When you join The Animation Guild and work under its jurisdiction, you have the protection of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that spells out working conditions, wage minimums, and much more. Individually, workers don’t have much leverage over their employer to improve working conditions or increase benefits; however, together they wield much more power.
Some good things that Unions, like The Animation Guild, negotiate for their members include high-quality employer paid health care plans, pension plans (we have two!), wage minimums, free or reduced-cost skills training and more. Learn more about Benefits here. Our Union even has an optional 401(k) plan to help our members save more for their retirement years. And, when an employer fails to live up to their end of the bargain, the Union can represent the interests of its members by using the grievance process.
There is a one-time initiation fee that is charged when you first join the Guild. The fee is two weeks’ scale wage in the job category in which you’re first hired (that is, not your actual rate of pay, which might be higher). This fee is included in your balance when you are set up as a new member. To estimate your initiation fee, check out the scale wage of your job category, or contact the Guild office at email@example.com. Our parent union, the IATSE, charges a one-time processing fee of $100. This fee is included in your balance when you are set up as a new member, so please don’t send it separately! We will pay the registration fee from your initiation fee. Lastly, all Active members will be charged quarterly dues (every three months), which are due on or before January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.
We understand that paying off your entire initiation fee in one lump sum can be challenging. The Guild office is more than happy to arrange a payment plan that works with your budget. A recommended plan should have been included with your membership packet. If you would like to discuss a different plan, please email our Finance Operations Manager, Kristal Landa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After you’ve completed your initial financial obligation, you are entitled to full membership with The Animation Guild. In your membership packet, you will receive the official membership application form supplied by the IATSE to our Local. Please fill it out right away and send it in, even if you are not finished paying your initial financial obligation. The Guild must submit your application to the IATSE General Office once that obligation has been met. Once the IATSE approves and stamps your membership application, you will be invited to be sworn in at the monthly membership meeting.
According to The Animation Guild’s Constitution and By-Laws, dues are based upon the minimum weekly journeyman rate of the classification in which the member is or was most recently employed as of the first day of the quarter in which such dues are due and payable. Dues for each fiscal quarter shall be payable in advance at the Business Office on or before the tenth day of the quarter. Members must keep up to date as to the status of their account. The fiscal quarters shall begin January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1. Find your journeyman rate here.
You can pay your dues in-person at the Guild office, send your check via mail, or submit a payment online. Dues payments are accepted via cash, check, or money order at the Guild office during regular business hours, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. We currently do not accept credit card payments at the office, but can accept payments via credit cards or bank account transfers through the online payment system: https://animationguild.org/dues/ (Please note that due to the pandemic, we are currently NOT accepting in-person payments.)
Usually studios don’t give us your personal email address when sending information about new hires, and until we have input your personal email address, you will not be able to register for an account. Some studios do not provide the last 4 digits of your social security number, so you may have a temporary number assigned. Email email@example.com to provide us with your email address and last 4 digits of your SSN, and we will let you know if you need to use the temporary assigned number to register for the account. You don’t need to remember it, since it’s only used to get you into the system for the first time. After that you will log in using your email address and the password you choose in the registration process.
It takes about six months for your MPI health insurance to begin once you start working and have not participated before, or have not participated in the health plan in a while. Your participation is not dependent on your union paperwork or the status of your union account. For your initial participation, you need to accrue 600 hours during a qualifying period; once you’ve accrued the allotted hours there is a two-month processing period before your benefits are active. During that time, you should receive the MPIPHP enrollment packet, which needs to be filled out and submitted. Click here to learn more about MPI eligibility, including a chart of the qualifying periods. Contact MPI to check your eligibility and qualifying hours.
First, check with your studio’s HR department to find out if you receive any health credits or reimbursements for health insurance while you await your qualifying period. This benefit varies from studio to studio. While waiting for your MPI Health Plan to kick in, you can opt into Covered California coverage, or contact the Entertainment Health Insurance Solutions (EHIS), a joint program of MPTF and The Actors Fund, that offers California residents in the entertainment and performing arts community personalized counseling and health care enrollment.
Any questions regarding the MPI Health Plans should be directed to MPI staff. Visit their website at www.mpiphp.org or call 855-ASK-4MPI.
Wage transparency is an important part of improving conditions and wages for all animation workers. We have two resources for you to review. First of all, you can take a look at wage minimums that the Union has negotiated in our Collective Bargaining Agreement here. Remember, these are minimums, and you can always negotiate a higher rate for your position. We also conduct a yearly wage survey to get a pulse on industry wage averages. Check out those rates here.
Definitely! When you receive a job offer from a studio that is a Union signatory, you can always negotiate for a better salary beyond the minimum Union wage for that position. Consider the union minimums as your starting point. An employer will not be surprised if you make a counter-offer. Learn more tips on how to negotiate your deal memo here.
The easiest way to keep us updated on any residence changes is to fill out the online address form. If you have trouble accessing the form, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submitting your information on the form will update the Guild’s records, and your 401k account, if you are a TAG 401k plan participant. It will not update MPI, which is the next important step. The MPI change of address form is shared on our form page, and is also available on the MPI website.
Once you have completed your initiation requirements and your membership application has been approved, you are a full member of The Animation Guild, and you will receive a paper membership card. You will receive a new membership card every year.
While the Union cannot secure you a new job, we can offer a variety of resources to help you during your job search. Please check out our page on actions you can take while looking for work.
For Guild members working under the Animation Guild Master Collective Bargaining Agreement, you are eligible for dismissal pay 110 days after you have been laid off. The rate of dismissal pay is determined by how long you worked for your employer. Learn more about Dismissal Pay and how to qualify here. Guild members working under other negotiated bargaining agreements may have differing eligibility requirements.
You can request to have your account put on Honorable Withdrawal, which is like taking a leave of absence from the Guild for an indefinite period of time. You don’t pay any dues while on Honorable Withdrawal, and you can be reinstated at any time for a minimal fee. If you have at least five years in the industry in Union jobs, you would be vested in both parts of the pension plan, the Defined Benefit Plan and the Individual Account Plan, so nothing would be lost. If you have less than five years, there could be a loss of the Defined Benefit Plan if you don’t go back to work within two years. There is nothing you need to do with the 401(k) plan. The money does not need to be rolled out; you just can’t contribute more funds until you are working again at a Union employer.
Email the Guild office at email@example.com to let us know that you would like your Union membership reinstated. You will then be sent a reinstatement billing notice listing the fees that will be charged to reinstate your account.
The Collective Bargaining Agreements require union employers to fund job-related training programs for eligible industry employees. The Contract Services Administration Trust Fund (CSATF) that oversees these programs is controlled by Contract Services. Unfortunately, these training programs have been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. However, the Guild is offering select free training courses for members and other resources. Learn more here.
The best way to get started is to go to the 401(k) Quickstart page on the Animation Guild website. Follow the instructions there and complete and return the 401(k) form. The fastest way to submit a completed form is to scan and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. For changes to paycheck deferrals, or restarting contributions if you have switched seasons, switched shows, or switched employers, please use the Enrollment/Change form available on our website. For more information, click here.
For every hour worked at a TAG contracted studio, the employer makes contributions to the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan in the name of each member. Those contributions are mandated in our contract and bring participation in two pension plans: The Defined Benefit Plan (DB) and the Individual Account Plan (IAP). Members will never see a payroll deduction for these plans, and inclusion is automatic. For more information about the plans, or to check on your eligibility and benefits, visit the MPIPHP website.
Family Leave provides you with stability when you need it most, in some cases offering paid time off as well as ensuring your job will still be waiting for you when you return. In the animation industry, you may have access to family leave from four different sources: 1) Your employer’s individual family leave policies; 2) The Animation Guild Master Agreement; 3) State law, and; 4) Federal law. Click here to learn more about Family Leave and your rights.