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Remote Animators at Disney to Unionize with The Animation Guild

The employees were not given union contracts, which led to lower pay and fewer benefits.

Image credit: Disney

Ten remote animation workers employed by Walt Disney want to unionize across six U.S. states and have filed with the National Labor Relations Board for an official union election. They are seeking representation from the Animation Guild and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). These workers, who operate remotely, were not extended union contracts by Walt Disney Animation Studios, resulting in lower pay and limited benefits, according to the guild.

"TAG's remote worker organizing campaign is motivated by a basic principle—artists and writers who do the same work for the same studios should have the same rights and standards on the job, regardless of where they live. Walt Disney Animation Studios and other union studios in L.A. have shown for years that world-class animation work can continue to be done remotely," stated Ben Speight, The Animation Guild's organizer.

Following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and initiating return-to-work protocols, various employers informed remote animation workers that their working arrangements would no longer be covered by their contracts. This move comes after Disney's CEO Bob Iger told employees to work from corporate offices four days a week starting in March.

Disney was one of the studios affected by the 118-day strike by the SAG-AFTRA union, which sought higher wages for Hollywood actors and writers along with safeguards against the use of AI. The unionizing workers' petition for representation by the Animation Guild and IATSE highlights growing labor concerns in the animation industry.

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