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Workers on ‘Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News’ Vote to Unionize

The show's animation workers become second NY group in the last 30 years to vote for representation by The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, following Titmouse’s historic vote in January 2022.

Animation workers on Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News are among the latest group to seek union representation after voting to join The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 (TAG) —the second group of animation workers and production staff in New York to do so in less than a year. In January 2022, Titmouse New York became the first animation studio in New York to unionize in more than 30 years, and workers at the animation studio are currently in the process of bargaining their first contract.

“I was so inspired by my colleagues at Titmouse New York taking the first step to finally allow animation workers in New York to have a collective voice!” shared Lynn Fong, Drawn Animator at Late Night Cartoon’s Tooning Out the News. “I’m calling on Late Night Cartoons to voluntarily recognize our Union because all of the amazing, hardworking, passionate people who are my co-workers deserve to have benefits, protections, and fair treatment like any of our peers represented by the entertainment unions in LA.”

The supermajority of animation workers on the production signed Union representation cards with The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839. A petition was scheduled to be filed last Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election and certify the Union. Simultaneously, The Animation Guild is submitting a letter for voluntary recognition to CBS Eye Animation Productions, a subsidiary of CBS/Viacom.

The bargaining unit of 38 animation workers’ job roles includes After Effects Compositor; After Effects Lead; Animation Coordinator; Animation Production Assistant; Animation Technician; Assistant Director; Background Designer; Character Designer; Design Lead; Digital Animator; Digital Lead; Drawn Animator; Drawn Lead; Graphics Coordinator; Graphics Director; Graphics Artist; Rigger; Rigging Lead; and Supervising Animation Director.

According to TAG, the organizing work by the Tooning Out the News crew illustrates the power of workers who come together to provide a collective voice on issues that directly impact them on the job.

“For seven years in this industry, I’ve found fighting for myself to be a difficult and mostly futile battle,” said Cassidy Routh, Graphic Artist on Tooning Out the News. “The Late Night Collective [the name of the organizing committee] is teaming up to ensure that we all have a voice and that that voice matters. Consistent and affordable healthcare, reasonable hours, and fair wages are issues near and dear to my heart, and together we ask that Late Night Cartoons voluntarily recognize our Union so that we can continue to provide our hard work without fear of what will happen when the season ends.”

The Animation Guild is the only union representing animation artists and animation production workers in the United States. A sister local, the Canadian Animation Union, IATSE Local 938, represents animation workers in Canada.

Key worker issues cited by the union include defining job roles and classifying workers accurately, addressing unrealistic schedules, paying overtime appropriately, improving health benefits, and establishing wage minimums to ensure a livable salary.

Source: The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.