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The Animation Guild Celebrates 70th Anniversary

A collective voice to members across the animation industry, TAG has a storied history of advocacy and representation; early accomplishments include organizing Hanna-Barbera productions in 1958, followed in 1980 with the establishment of the American Animation Institute, and most recently extending its reach outside of LA with the organization of workers at Titmouse NY.

This week The Animation Guild (TAG) celebrates its 70th anniversary since being chartered as an IATSE Local in 1952. The labor organization represents animation and visual effects and strives to provide a “seamless cloak of benefits and the strength of a collective voice its members across the animation industry.”

Through its history it has achieved many milestones – here is a look back at some of the highlights:

  • 1952 - January 18 - The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Guild, IATSE Local 839 is born!
  • 1958 - Local 839 successfully organizes Hanna-Barbera Productions. Welcome Yogi Bear.
  • 1960 - October 11 - Warner Bros. The Bugs Bunny Show debuts on ABC. It features the credit: “Additional Art Work by Members of the M.P.S.C Local 839.”
  • 1979 - August - Local 839 goes on strike against major TV studios Hanna-Barbera Productions, Ruby-Spears Productions, and DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Ten days later, the strike ends. The studios agree to a "runaway clause" guaranteeing in-studio staffing levels before a limited amount of work can be subcontracted out of the country.
  • 1980 - Local 839 establishes the American Animation Institute with the goal of providing reasonably priced education in the art and craft of animation by animation industry professionals.
  • 1982 - August 6 - Despite the 1979 win, the studios refuse to renew the "runaway clause" limiting subcontracting outside the country. Following an overwhelming vote to authorize a strike, Local 839's 1,600 members go on a strike against all animation studios in Los Angeles. The 10-week strike ends with studios refusing to address the "runaway clause."
  • 1987 - The Society for Animation Studies is founded with a grant from Local 839. The society has hosted an annual conference since 1989 and publishes Animation Studies, a peer-reviewed journal.
  • 1995 - Spring - Local 839 signs a contract with the brand-new DreamWorks Animation. 
  • 2002 - July - The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Guild changes its name to The Animation Guild and Affiliated Electronic and Graphic Artists, IATSE Local 839.
  • 2002 - November - Nickelodeon Animation Studios signs its first Collective Bargaining Agreement with Local 839, bringing Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants into the Guild fold.
  • 2004 - October - Persistence pays off. By an overwhelming 166 to 20, employees of DPS Film Roman vote to join TAG. The studio produces The Simpsons and King of the Hill for Fox. The contract is ratified in January 2005.
  • 2014 - September - Having taken the unusual step of organizing mid-production, the crew of Rick & Morty ratify a new labor agreement with TAG. 
  • 2015 - Sideletter N enters the Collective Bargaining Agreement, setting wage minimums and improved working conditions for New (streaming) Media.
  • 2018 - April - TAG announces that more than 25% of workers under its union contract are women. This is the first time in modern history that the 25% mark has been reached.
  • 2019 - June 21 - Following an overwhelming vote of approval, the crew of Shadowmachine’s BoJack Horseman ratifies a contract with TAG.
  • 2022 - January 10 - TAG announces that Titmouse NY has organized under Local 839, the first time the Guild will represent an animation studio outside of LA County.

Source: The Animation Guild

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is assistant news editor at Animation World Network.