The Animation Guild is trying to further expand the union’s footprint in New York with a new effort to organize Paramount+’s Stephen Colbert presents Tooning Out the Newsrevealed the Guild on Thursday.
Unveil the news workers will present management with a request for voluntary recognition on Thursday and will also file a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. TAG hopes to include 38 workers, in roles such as character designers, graphic artists and riggers, in the union. The Guild argues that it has majority support within this workforce for the union.
The Hollywood Reporter has contacted Paramount+ for comment.
The satirical animated news series effort, co-created and executive produced by Stephen Colbert, is just the second organizing attempt by the Burbank-based IATSE local chapter in New York in recent history. Earlier this year, TAG secured voluntary union recognition at the Titmouse New York studio (Harriet the spy), marking its first union outside of Los Angeles County since the local’s charter was signed in 1952. Prior to this effort, the Guild said at the time, New York City animation artists had no had no union representation for about 30 years, since a merger between The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists (IATSE Local 841) and another IATSE Local in 1988.
According Unveil the news digital host Indra Rodies, who serves on the group’s bargaining committee, the Paramount+ trade show’s labor campaign has been in development for more than a year and was notably inspired by TAG’s foray into the East Coast with Titmouse New York . “We are the only LNC department [Late Night Cartoons, the CBS subsidiary producing the show] which is not currently unionized, so we hope to join writers, producers and editors etc. in making Late Night Cartoons a sustainable workplace for the incredibly talented animators who have joined us over the years,” says Rodies.
Animation Guild organizer Ben Speight says workers involved in the campaign currently have no health care or retirement benefits, paid vacation or overtime protection. He adds that with the union will, the workers will also fight for higher wages. “But really, it’s about having a seat at the table around these things and so many others,” Speight explains. “A lot of issues with having a voice in the production process and making sure they’re heard.”
The Animation Guild currently has other shows under the ViacomCBS umbrella under a union contract, such as Star Trek: lower decks, but all are based in the Los Angeles area. Rodies says New York City is a bit of a “Wild West” for animation talent and says “the union is just going to help stabilize the animation market in New York and create a massive incentive for talent. to consider New York City as a legitimate workplace.
“Our primary goal is to make New York a sustainable place for animators to thrive and be able to do the creative work that we’ve done in LA and elsewhere,” Rodies said.