At noon on April 3, The Animation Guild leadership and TAG’s Walt Disney Animation Studios artists joined Walt Disney Animation Studios production workers in a Solidarity Walk at Disney Studios. A supermajority of the production workers has expressed their interest in being represented by the Union, and the walk was in response to studio leadership’s refusal to voluntarily recognize the organizing effort and their exclusion of specific job categories, specifically production managers and production supervisors.
More than 100 animation production workers and artists gathered at the Roy E. Disney Animation Building to hear words of support from The Animation Guild’s Business Representative Steve Kaplan. The group then walked the perimeter of the studio lot to the entrance of the Michael D. Eisner Building where a group of 12 representatives presented a petition to Mark Stubbington, Vice President, Labor Relations Counsel Walt Disney Pictures and Television. The solidarity petition was signed by more than 18,000 animators, production workers, and supporters. In demanding to join the Union, the production workers are demanding an end to unsustainable workplace practices such as low wages, unpaid overtime, and unrealistic schedules. While the petition was being presented, production workers and Animation Guild members gave speeches to the crowd.
“This walk is important to show the company and the studio that we are not only supporting ourselves, but our artists and colleagues are supporting us,” says Maggie Hughes, Senior Production Coordinator and Organizing Committee member. “The studio is behind us, but the corporate leaders are not behind us.”
Production Coordinator Jill Howells adds, “[Disney] knows there are thousands of people like me willing to take a pay cut to follow their dreams, and they have taken advantage of it for long enough. It’s time for production management to be treated as the skilled craft that it is. And time for us to be paid a reasonable wage for the cost of living in Los Angeles. I have a career working for successful movies that are known across the globe, that are merchandised and profit well. I should not have to dog-sit and borrow money from my parents in order to make ends meet.”
“We’ve been begging for the studio to treat us equally,” says Production Supervisor Nora Rogers. “To look at us and our contributions to these multi-million-dollar projects as something that really matters, and they’ve chosen to ignore it. We’re tired of begging, so now we’re here demanding that they really look at us and see the worth that we bring to these projects.”
Among the many TAG members who spoke out in support of the production workers, Animator, Disney Shop Steward, and TAG Board Member Justin Weber says, “Our production co-workers deserve a seat at the table just like the rest of the artists and technical directors, and we stand proudly with them in solidarity as they rightfully demand representation.”
TAG Business Representative Steve Kaplan elaborated on this: “This is a historic day where The Animation Guild members are backing a group of people who are seeking to gain voluntary recognition from the company. It’s disappointing that the company is putting us in a position to have to justify what they’ve already provided other managers and supervisors across the entertainment industry. I’m proud to be able to stand with the group today to show that there is a majority of support for representation.”
Show your support and sign the petition here.