Disney Animation Staff Will Be Allowed to Unionize, NLRB Rules

Production employees will now vote on whether to join the IATSE

Disney Diane Jurgens
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The National Labor Relations Board has issued a Direction of Election allowing Walt Disney Animation Studios production employees to become unionized.

Full-time and project-based production coordinators, production supervisors and production managers can now vote on whether to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees.  This comes exactly a month after Disney’s VFX artists voted to unionize.

“This historic win during Disney’s 100th-year celebration means that production folks can turn their wish into a reality,” production coordinator Liz Davalos said.  

Hannah Bialosky, another member of the Walt Disney Animation Studios production team, stated that this decision was “a strong precedent for all other production management workers in the animation industry hoping to organize with their studios.”  

It is the first time that the NLRB has confirmed these job titles as being eligible to unionize under the formal election process. The NLRB regional director’s ruling affirmed that the production managers and production supervisors are not supervisors, managerial employees or confidential employees. They also share a community of interest with production coordinators, thus rendering them eligible.  

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This is just one of several recent victories for the Animation Guild in representing production department workers. Those efforts have only been successful when the employer voluntarily recognizes the union, as was the case for Nickelodeon production workers and production and IT workers on “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons” and “American Dad.” This route bypasses the need for a unionization election. The question as to whether certain production job titles would be eligible to unionize through an NLRB election was, until Wednesday, unanswered. 

Production coordinator Maggie Hughes, referencing the employers’ alleged strategy to stall and gerrymander the unit said, “This win exemplifies the core of why we’re unionizing. We knew throughout this process that everyone in our unit deserves to be eligible, but the company still decided to pursue this long and arduous process in an attempt to divide us. We have stayed patient and adamant in our stance so it feels extremely validating to win this colossal victory not only for ourselves but also for the animation industry as a whole.”  

Production supervisor Nora Rogers emphasized, “This win marks the start of our voice as production department workers holding true weight… the NLRB’s decision provides us the opportunity to stop asking and start demanding.”  

Presuming the United States federal government doesn’t shut down next week, the election for the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ production workers will occur from Oct. 10 to Oct. 31. The votes will be counted on Nov. 1.  


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