On May 30, dozens of TAG members returned to Hulett Hall at The Animation Guild building for the first in-person General Membership (GMM) since the start of the pandemic. As with most events these days, it looked a little different. As of now, GMMs are hybrid—members can come in person or attend on Zoom. But it was clear on Tuesday night that meeting in person creates an energy that can’t be replicated online.
Using the Guild’s new Winmill e-membership system, Sergeant-At-Arms Danny Ducker and Executive Board member Erica Smith checked members in to ensure confidentiality. They heard from numerous members excited to be attending their first in-person GMM because they’d joined the Guild during the pandemic.
Upstairs in the hall before the meeting, new and veteran members socialized over pizza and salad. Then—with Business Rep Steve Kaplan, President Jeanette Moreno King, Vice President Teri Henrich Cusumano, and Recording Secretary Paula Spence on the dias—the meeting got underway with the help of two cameras, two video screens, and a team of helpers led by TAG Facilities Manager Jupey Krusho.
Among the night’s highlights was the swearing in of new members, including four members in the room. The words of the pledge were shown on the main screen while our new members read along.
Reports from our Organizers Ben Speight and Allison Smartt were proof that being together in person makes a difference. While they had to present their reports by way of Zoom, the response in Hulett Hall was tangible. Online attendees were muted, but those in the room applauded as Allison and Ben shared TAG’s recent organizing efforts victories.
Allison discussed the hard work being done by production workers at Disney—along with our Disney Shop Steward and Executive Board Member Justin Weber—to continue to demand for the voluntary recognition they made in January. Ben described how the workers at Powerhouse in Austin faced a refusal to recognize their efforts, re-strategized their request, and are holding elections to unionize. Then there was the news that Titmouse NYC has ratified its first TAG contract—filling Hulett Hall with clapping and cheers.
As with everything we do at the Guild, this GMM did not happen without teamwork. Everyone involved deserves credit—and a special shout-out to Jupey, who has been testing the new systems for months to make a smooth transition to hybrid meetings, and who managed the monitors, cameras, and mics while the meeting took place.
Yes, it’s more convenient to attend the GMM by Zoom. And we know it’s not always possible to come in person. But when you can, you’ll be doing more than just sitting through reports. You’ll be side-by-side with TAG leaders and your colleagues across the industry—asking important questions, celebrating victories, and creating connections while sharing a slice.