Production workers at Walt Disney Animation Studios have voted to unionize, but the studio has refused to recognize them voluntarily.

A super majority of Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) production workers voted to unionize with the Animation Guild (TAG), IATSE Local 839, and began negotiations for their first collective agreement.

How Disney Responded - Unfortunately, WDAS leadership has refused to voluntarily recognize the unit as a whole and is attempting to eliminate more than half of the group based on job titles. According to IATSE, the move is intended to exploit misunderstandings of labor law and prolong the unionization process.

What WDAS is accused of - A common tactic used by large companies that do not want their employees to unionize is to try to divide the workforce. This is often done by excluding certain job categories from unionization; according to TAG, WDAS has excluded production managers, production coordinators, and production supervisors from the bargaining group.

Going forward - After Disney refused to grant voluntary recognition, IATSE filed a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ballot on behalf of the Animation Guild; the TAG also issued an open letter urging Disney leadership to "do the right thing and take action to protect the production managers, production Coordinator, Production Manager, and Production Supervisor and grant the request of IATSE Local 839, The Animation Guild (TAG)," and launched an online petition asking them to "do the right thing and join IATSE Local 839, The Animation Guild (TAG)."

Your help is needed. #Disney refuses to recognize #animation production workers seeking to #unionize. 25] #UnionStrong #ProductionStrong #AnimationGuild @IATSE

- Animation Guild // #WeAre839 (@animationguild) March 8, 2023

The big picture: the Animation Guild has facilitated a large wave of production workers who have voted to unionize over the past year, including Solar Opposites, Rick and Morty, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad. Toon Out the News, studio Titmouse LA, Bento Box Entertainment, and Nickelodeon Animation Studios all voted to have TAG represent them over the past 13 months.

What they said After WDAS refused to recognize the employees' decision, the WDAS Production Organizing Committee issued the following statement:

Disney has voluntarily approved the Production Coordinator, Production Supervisor, and Production Manager Refusing to do so and attempting to divide us suggests that they are trying to scare us into giving up and accepting something that is not worthy of us. If you think this will atrophy production, you are mistaken. Production is a profession unto itself, and by forming a union we are saying that we deserve a viable and sustainable career path, a living wage, and the ability to retire with dignity.

Steve Kaplan, Business Representative for IATSE Local 839, stated:

We gave the studio the opportunity to work cooperatively, but our refusal to voluntarily approve a bargaining unit directly challenges the bipartisan support for worker unionization. We take the demands of representation seriously and will commit resources to help production workers achieve the rights and improved conditions that only a collective agreement can bring.

Hannah Bialosky, production coordinator at WDAS, stated:

The compensation we are currently receiving is not commensurate with the value of our work. Our salaries make it difficult for us to continue to do the work we love as a lifetime career and live a reasonably comfortable life without being financially dependent on our partners, parents, or side hustles. On the other hand, the content we help produce brings in billions of dollars for Disney through box office sales, merchandise, games, publishing, streaming, park attractions, and more. It is time for the studios to recognize our value and the important role we play in their productions and pay us our fair share.

Matthew D. Loeb, president of IATSE International, added that.

All workers behind the scenes in entertainment deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard and to decide democratically for themselves whether they want to be represented by a union. It is distasteful that the Walt Disney Company would seek to create division in its own workplace by trying to exclude some workers from unionizing groups in order to pay them less and not give them the benefits and protections they deserve. Disney already employs IATSE members as department heads and similar positions throughout its operations. This is a blatant attempt to undermine the collective bargaining rights of union members and lower standards for all workers in this industry. We will leave no one behind, see you at the NLRB.