The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, Local 839 IATSE, has rolled out a special agreement for dotcom studios producing animation for the Net. The Union has drafted a newer, simpler contract without the traditional animation classifications and rates. The Web contract is designed to offer Internet start-ups maximum flexibility while still providing animation employees with their regular pension and health coverage. The new contract will provide health and pension benefits under the same multi-employer plan as that of other union shops. These benefits are available to employers at a fraction of the cost of non-union coverage, with employees enjoying the advantages of multi-employer health and pension without coverage lapses. There is also an option for an employee-funded 401K plan with virtually no administrative expense to the employer. "Many of our members have started working in this new industry, and have shared their desire to continue union health and pension benefits," said business representative Steve Hulett. "They understand that the terms of a new contract are not going to be the same as the ones they have worked under at traditional animation studios like Disney, Warners or DreamWorks." The union acknowledged that this was a new direction for them, but a road well worth travelling. Local 839 President Tom Sito, currently co-directing the Warner Bros. feature OSMOSIS JONES, said that new animation technologies require new approaches by the union. "We've been a pencil-and-paper organization for almost half a century," said Sito. "But more and more, we're becoming an organization of artists working in digital technologies. This seems like a natural step." With over 3,000 members, Local 839 is the largest organization of traditional animators, digital artists and techs in the world. The Union has said that several Internet companies have already started to respond to the union's outreach efforts.
Find out more about the status of the Cartoonists' Union in Animation World Magazine's interview with Union president Tom Sito.