- The Washington Times - Friday, July 1, 2022

Members of the production crew for “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “American Dad” have filed to join a union.

The unionization effort is being done so the production managers, supervisors, coordinators and writers’ assistants can receive benefits, such as health care and retirement, according to NPR. The workers have filed to join the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, according to Deadline.

Other positions covered by the push to unionize are production assistants, associate producers, office assistants and information technology supervisors.

“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,” said Jason Jones, an animatic and timing production supervisor at “American Dad,” as reported by Deadline. “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.”

The jobs covered by the unionization effort are often thought of as entry-level, but NPR reported that many people make careers out of those positions.

A supermajority of employees originally requested to be voluntarily recognized by parent company 20th Television Animation on May 26, per Deadline.

The company told Deadline, at the time, that it asked for additional time to review the request. NPR reported Friday that 20th Television Animation still hasn’t recognized the request.

The production teams for all three shows filed to unionize in early June with the National Labor Relations Board.

An entertainment industry management-side labor lawyer who spoke anonymously with the Hollywood Reporter last month called the timing of the move to unionize “particularly interesting.”

The Animation Guild had been negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and streamers, since last fall over a new “master agreement,” which was tentatively reached on May 27.

Those talks would have been the time to discuss recognizing production workers as members of the union, according to the lawyer who spoke with the Hollywood Reporter. They interpreted that as the Animation Guild feeling it may not have worked out, so they chose to organize at individual employers instead.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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