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Negotiations Town Hall: What do we want?

Alexandra Drosu / April 29, 2021

Union News / no comments

On Apr. 27th, The Animation Guild held its first Town Hall in preparation for negotiations. This meeting aimed to inform members about the negotiations process, introduce the Negotiations Committee, and share details about the proposal process. If you were unable to attend the event, please take a moment to review some of the “non-sensitive” information that was shared. Some of the information shared during the Town Hall, such as more specific proposal discussions, are not for public consumption and so are not included in this recap. If you have questions, please email

Negotiations Town Hall Recap: What Do We Want?

What is our collective bargaining agreement/CBA?

  • Our Guild negotiates with Union employers to establish contracts called “collective bargaining agreements,” abbreviated as CBA. 
  • These contracts stipulate minimum wages, hours, working conditions, and benefits for members of our Union working for employers who have agreed to the contract.

What are negotiations?

  • Negotiations are the process of establishing and agreeing upon a CBA with employers. During negotiations, the “wants” of the membership are pitted against what employers are willing to provide. The negotiations process requires both parties to be willing to compromise and bargain in “good faith” toward a resolution. 
  • Negotiating individually can be difficult, but negotiating a base agreement collectively means that our ability to achieve our demands is stronger.

Why do we negotiate?

  • We negotiate in order to create a CBA that ensures Guild members receive appropriate pay, benefits, and working conditions. 
  • Our CBAs have a limited term (typically, about three years). When the term ends, representatives from the Guild meet with the employers to renegotiate the terms of the CBA.
  • Having a CBA with a limited term is beneficial to us because it gives us time to figure out what parts of the CBA are working and what needs to be revised.
  • When parts of the CBA need revisions, we can write proposals to change it. We bargain for these changes with the employers during negotiations.
  • The proposals we bring to negotiations are designed to benefit our members by addressing issues that have been identified in the workplace. 

Who else is involved in our negotiations?

The Animation Guild is not the only Union that negotiates a CBA during the industry-wide negotiation cycle. Our parent union, the IATSE, and all the local unions within the IATSE also negotiate their own CBAs. Here are some of the groups that are involved directly or indirectly in our negotiations:

  • IATSE: the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees.
    •  This is our parent union. IATSE represents over 150,000  workers across disciplines throughout the entertainment industry.
    • Within the IATSE, the Animation Guild is IATSE Local 839.
  • AMPTP: the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. 
    • This is the bargaining agent for the entertainment employers who negotiate with the entertainment Unions, including the IATSE.
  • The Entertainment Industry Unions: We benefit from the fact that the entertainment industry is largely unionized, and each of the entertainment Unions bargains its own CBA. This also establishes a pattern of gains and improvements that informs the gains for each of the Unions in negotiations. 

How does the Guild fit into the big picture?

  • The Animation Guild typically bargains a successor agreement toward the end of the industry negotiation cycle. 
  • Because other IATSE unions begin their negotiations before us, we can benefit from “pattern bargaining.”
    • Pattern bargaining refers to gains made by another union that can also benefit The Animation Guild. When employers agree to a change that could benefit members of more than one Union, other IATSE Unions are often able to incorporate this change into their respective CBAs as well.
  • Our best estimate is that our negotiations this year will begin in late June

What is the Negotiations Committee?

  • The Negotiations Committee is a team of engaged Guild members and committee leaders, who research and write the proposals that will be brought to negotiations. They help supply the data and arguments used to support different proposals during negotiations with the employers.
  • Members of the Negotiations Committee are volunteers. For this term, the Negotiations Committee has about 50 members.
    • One of the goals of the negotiations committee is to represent the breadth and diversity of our membership. Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, and bring the concerns and varied voices of the membership to the negotiation table.
  • Constitutionally, our business representative Steve Kaplan chairs the committee. Steve provides his insights on how negotiations work, but ultimately the deciding voices are the committee members.
  • Unlike other committees who work on ongoing issues, the Negotiations Committee is only established near the end of each negotiations term. After the CBA is ratified by the membership, the committee is dissolved.

The Negotiations Committee is working on a variety of different issues. Here are some of the groups participating in negotiations:

Committee Presentations

Chairs of some of the different committees presented information about their proposals at the Apr. 27th meeting. This only covers a portion of the proposals being worked on by the Negotiations Committee.

Danny Ducker presenting on the Testing & Skill Evaluations Committee’s proposal:

  • This committee was formed to address issues centered around testing and skills evaluations. They have been gathering data about tests, and educating the membership about testing.
  • The goal of the committee in negotiations is to address sideletter J and burdensome testing.

Jake Hollander and Sydney Sharp presenting on the Storyboard Artists Committee’s proposal:

  • This committee was formed to address the issues faced by storyboard artists through changes to the contract, member outreach, and education. They have connected directly with a variety of board artists to learn about their different experiences and the challenges they face.
  • The goal of the committee in negotiations is to streamline storyboard artist classification and remove existing issues from the contract language.

Mairghread Scott presenting on the Writers Committee’s proposal:

  • The committee formed after the last round of negotiations in order to address the ongoing issues faced by writers. They have worked to gather data about the experiences of members across their craft.
  • The goal of the committee in negotiations is to push for a more equitable contract for animation writers, and to ensure that both staff writers and short-term writers are afforded appropriate pay and benefits.

Emily Walus presenting on the Sideletter N Subcommittee’s proposal:

  • This is a subcommittee specific to the negotiations committee to address the issues surrounding Sideletter N. Sideletter N covers all of  “new media,” which includes much of online streaming media as well as other experimental media.
  • The goal of the committee in negotiations is to push for a more equitable contract for workers on streaming productions and any other productions that fall under Sideletter N.

Teri Cusamano presenting on the work of the Negotiations Communications Subcommittee:

  • This subcommittee was formed specifically to educate members about the work of the negotiations committee and to increase solidarity leading up to negotiations.
  • The subcommittee presented their hashtag #NewDeal4Animation, meant to show Guild solidarity as negotiations approach.

How does the Negotiations Committee prepare for negotiations? 

  • The Negotiations Committee is made up of membership committee members and engaged members who have committed to preparing proposals to bring to the discussions with the employers. These subcommittees are where the bulk of the work is done. 
  • In many cases, these subcommittees and craft committees have been meeting for more than a year to two years to gather data and prepare for negotiations.
  • At each meeting, the Negotiations Committee reviews the various negotiations proposals and changes that have been made to each one. Committee members have a chance to weigh in on each proposal, either to voice support or to suggest changes to strengthen proposals. 
  • The goal of the committee is to build the best proposals possible to serve the Guild Membership.
  • Often, various subcommittees collaborate to craft the strongest proposals possible. 

The Negotiations Committee will be sending out a survey in advance of negotiations. Your participation is important! Participation helps the committee understand member priorities and shape their proposals for negotiations accordingly. Share your voice!


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