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Animation Guild Negotiates Three-Year Contract With Producers

The Animation Guild and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE, has reached agreement with the animation producers on a three-year collective bargaining agreement, effective Aug. 1, 2006 to July 31, 2009. The Animation Guilds negotiating committee has unanimously recommended ratification to the Guild (TAG, membership.

The new Animation Guild agreement offers the same wage minimum increases, health and pension benefits as the IATSE Hollywood Basic Agreement just ratified by members of the live-action IATSE West Coast locals. Animation Guild president Kevin Koch and TAG business rep Steve Hulett, assisted by IATSE vps Matthew Loeb and Michael F. Miller Jr., led the Guild committee that hammered out the agreement in a two-day session on March 6 and 7 with reps of Adelaide Prods., Cartoon Network, Columbia, Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, MGM, Universal and Warner Bros. Animation.

The new agreement will feature:* A 75-cent-per-hour increase in the weekly wage minimums for the first year, a 3% compounded increase for the second year and a 3% compounded increase for the third year;

* Substantial increases to benefit contributions for freelance animation writers, which will help writers to more easily qualify for health insurance under the TAG agreement;

* Improvements in the health insurance, pension plan, and Individual Account Plan, paralleling those in the IA Basic Agreement.

"We had three primary goals for this contract: salary and pension increases, no givebacks and major increases in the health and pension contributions for freelance writers, said Koch. Im thrilled that we got all three. We made a strong case that some of our writers were struggling to earn adequate benefit-hour contributions and, to their credit, the producers heard us and responded. Its a good contract for all parties, and I expect overwhelming approval from the membership.

In the time Ive been negotiating contracts, said TAG business rep Steve Hulett, Ive been a participant in and witness to shouting matches, walkouts, rancor and general ill will. But these negotiations had none of that, and I give a lot of credit to Matt Loeb, Mike Miller and Steve Aredas from the IATSE, and to Carol Lombardini of the AMPTP and the producer representatives. Everyone was professional and cooperative throughout.