After a four-year organizing drive, the membership of the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, Local 839 IATSE (M.P.S.C. Local 839) has unanimously ratified a collective bargaining agreement with BKN Studios, Inc. (BKN). "The BKN contract marks the successful end of one of the longest organizing drives in the union's history," business representative Steve Hulett said after the vote at the local's membership meeting on November 27, 2001. M.P.S.C. Local 839 began meeting with company employees in late 1998 and collected representation cards and filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in early 1999. A hearing and election were held, but the NLRB sealed the ballot box for thirteen months. The results are now known. "My hat is off to Steve Hulett and president emeritus Tom Sito for their tenacity in getting this contract signed," said Kevin Koch, who succeeded the retiring Sito as Local 839's president in early November. "As we showed here, Local 839 continues to do whatever it takes to defend the interests of all animation professionals." The BKN agreement marks the local's first successful organizing drive since Fox Animation and Adelaide Productions signed agreements in 1998. The union is in ongoing negotiations with other cartoon studios. Most recently, the union has voiced support for the Writers Guild of America west's campaign to organize animation writers at Viacom's Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank.
In early 2000, M.P.S.C. Local 839 staged a picket in front of the Los Angeles affiliate of PBS. Read why.