TAG business representative Steve Kaplan signed three voluntary recognition agreements on Friday, and a card check performed by an independent arbitrator will be happening soon, according to a union spokesperson. Ultimately, production assistants, production coordinators, production managers, IT technicians, office managers and supervisors were included in the union’s bargaining units at the three shows, but not associate producers, which TAG initially sought to fold into the group. The organizing drive at the 20th Television Animation shows marked the first time that TAG sought to unionize IT workers in collective bargaining.
Prior to this particular organizing drive, TAG already represented workers in other roles at all three shows. The Hollywood Reporter reached out to all three shows and 20th Television Animation for comment; a representative for The Simpsons said the show had no comment.
When TAG announced its unionization effort at the three shows in early June, the IATSE-affiliated union was in the process of filing for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board. (Voluntary recognition circumvents the NLRB election process.) In a statement in early June, American Dad! animatic and timing production supervisor Jason Jones noted that many production workers on animated shows are not unionized, unlike a number of their colleagues: “Those of us who have been working in animation production for many years take pride in knowing that we are an integral part of the longevity and evolution of our shows, right alongside the artists that we work with.” He added, “Even though we meet the same tight deadlines and work the same long hours, we [are aware] that we do not share the same basic protections as the artists we spend those hours with. We deserve the same respect and dignity as our fellow Union-protected workers.”
TAG has been renewing its efforts to organize production workers — those in roles including production managers, production coordinators, production assistants and writers assistants — particularly since the start of the year. Prior to the organizing drive at The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad!, production workers allied with TAG unionized this year at Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites and at studios Titmouse L.A., Titmouse New York and ShadowMachine.
In a June interview with THR about the union’s recent organizing push, TAG organizer Ben Speight said that the idea of bringing production workers into the union “wasn’t too much of a lift for artists, in the main.” He added, “Many of the production workers that are organizing now, either they have a background in art or they have a deep passion for animation themselves. So in many ways socially and culturally, they are the same community as those that happen to be in artist roles.”