I joined the Guild in 2019.
During the peak of the pandemic I needed some semblance of community, so I figured I might as well attend a few Guild committee meetings. It was weird to join virtually since everyone in the space seemed to know each other and already had business to attend to. I was “trying The Guild on” to see if it fit, if I fit, and how it felt. I quickly felt welcomed and that my voice mattered even if what I was saying had already been discussed or if I was learning on the fly. After a weird beginning I found belonging. A few months later I joined the Negotiations Committee with no understanding or expectations of what was to come. All I heard was a call to action.
This past year (I guess it’s been over a year since the Negotiations Committee formed) has been tough. The conversations were difficult at many points. Arguments arose, emotions of all kinds came out, but at all points there was respect. Because we were all TAG members, and no one’s experience outweighed or diminished the other. I never felt like I really had anything to offer the committee. I joined because I was told it would be helpful, and that’s generally what I strive to be. I didn’t have any understanding of what was happening (like at all), the procedures, the topics being discussed, the very system of negotiations and how they run/operate. I was new to everything, and all I had to offer was a few meager years working in animation and no education regarding unions.
I felt like I was sitting among titans. This Zoom room was full of people who have helped lead this Union for decades, along with members who are young but possess all of the understanding and wisdom beyond their age and experience. To my right were folx who unflinchingly demanded growth for all people, and to my left were members who have families and have led many different lives before coming to where they are now. The room was full of people from all areas of our industry, of all different ages, with all different backgrounds and beliefs. There was no one type of person in this room, besides being a Union member. And I realized that’s all I needed to be, just a TAG member.
Strong unions are not built on the backs of the few, but of the many. I found my voice by joining committees. Now I’m a shop steward, a committee co-chair, I’ve been to Districts and the Quadrennial Convention, I helped plan the #NewDeal4Animation rally, and I’ve served on the Negotiations Committee. I still have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing something and I’m using my voice. Though I didn’t have much to say in Negotiations and mostly asked questions, I recognize that those questions matter because all members matter. If you feel you don’t have a voice within the Guild, I am here to say you do and it’s imperative that you use it.
Look, our Guild is not perfect and we have a lot of growing to do, but it is growing and it’s up to each of us to shape how it grows. Your voice needs to be heard no matter if you feel like it does or if you’re worthy of sharing it.
Take me as proof. Listen. Learn. Vote.