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The Animation Guild, I.A.T.S.E. Local 839


The Animation Guild, I.A.T.S.E. Local 839

The Animation Guild
Full name The Animation Guild and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts
Native name IATSE Local #839
Founded 1952
Members 2,550 (2010)
Head union International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
Affiliation AFL-CIO
Key people Jack Thomas, President
Karen Carnegie Johnson, Vice President
Steven Hulett, Business Representative
Office location Burbank, CA
Country United States

The Animation Guild, I.A.T.S.E. Local 839 is a professional guild and union of animation artists, writers and technicians. It was formed in 1952. In 2002, the organization changed its name from Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists.

The full name of the organization is The Animation Guild and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 of the Canadian Labour Congress.


  • Governance 1
  • Collective bargaining agreements 2
    • Animation Guild 401(k) Plan 2.1
  • Jurisdiction 3
    • Work jurisdiction 3.1
    • Geographical jurisdiction 3.2
  • Employers 4
    • Animation studios signed with TAG 4.1
    • Animation studios signed with the IATSE 4.2
    • Payroll companies 4.3
  • Membership requirements 5
    • Membership by employment 5.1
    • Membership by organizing 5.2
  • External links 6


The Animation Guild is governed by its membership, which meets every two months. To supervise the Guild's affairs, every three years the membership elects a sixteen-person Executive Board by secret mail ballot. As of August 2015, the key executives on the Board are:

  • President: Jack Thomas
  • Vice President: Karen Carnegie Johnson
  • Business Representative: Steve Hulett

The Business Representative is the only paid, full-time elected official of the Guild, which also has a paid staff. All other Board members work at studios under the Guild's jurisdiction.

Collective bargaining agreements

The Animation Guild negotiates and enforces collective bargaining agreements, or CBAs, with companies employing persons under its jurisdiction. These CBAs:

  • define terms and conditions of employment;
  • set minimum wages, hours and working conditions;
  • provide for a grievance procedure, whereby the Guild intervenes on behalf of its members in disputes with their employers;
  • specify the payment of contributions to the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans (MPIPHP), to provide health insurance and a defined-benefit pension. The MPIPHP is entirely employer-funded, by hourly contributions and by residuals and supplemental market payments.

All of the terms and conditions of Animation Guild CBAs are minimums; that is, any employee working under a CBA has the unrestricted right to negotiate better terms and conditions than those set forth in the CBA. Such better terms and conditions include but are not limited to:

  • "overscale" wages;
  • sick pay;
  • additional vacation time;
  • provisions to allow employees to work at home or off-premises.

The text of the Guild's current CBAs and sideletters can be found on their website.

Animation Guild 401(k) Plan

Although not part of the CBA, the Guild sponsors a multi-employer, employee-funded 401(k) plan to which virtually all of its employers are signed. The 401(k) plan was administered by Mass Mutual in the past, but is currently managed by The Vanguard Group.


The Animation Guild's jurisdiction is determined by its parent body, the IATSE, and as defined in its CBA.

Work jurisdiction

The Guild covers all artistic, creative and technical job categories in the animation process, with the following exceptions:

  • Animation camerapersons are under the jurisdiction of IATSE Local 600.
  • Track readers and soundpersons are under the jurisdiction of IATSE Local 695.
  • Animation editors are under the jurisdiction of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700.
  • Animation voice actors are covered by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
  • Generally speaking, animation directors of theatrical features are not covered, as they are considered management due to their ability to hire and fire employees, but animation directors in other media such as television are covered.
  • Although animation producers, production managers and non-creative support personnel are not covered under the Guild CBA, employers will sometimes sign a so-called "non-affiliate" agreement that allows them to cover them for purposes of health insurance and pension.
  • Although most animation writers are under the Animation Guild's jurisdiction, some are covered by the Writers Guild of America, west.
  • So-called "freelancers" are covered under the CBA if they are working as employees of a signator employer. Bona fide independent contractors are not covered, since they are not employees of the company for which they perform work.

Although the Guild's traditional jurisdiction was limited to those working on animated films, in recent years the Guild has expanded to the point where a significant percentage of its members are employed in motion picture computer graphics. Today, both 2D and 3D artists work under the Guild's jurisdiction, both in animation and live action.

Geographical jurisdiction

All of the Animation Guild's current collective bargaining agreements are with employers in southern California. The IATSE and other IA locals have jurisdiction over animation in other areas of the United States and Canada.


Animation studios signed with TAG

As of May 2015, the following animation studios were signed to collective bargaining agreements with the Animation Guild:

Animation studios signed with the IATSE

Guild members are employed at the following studios under collective bargaining agreements with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees:

Payroll companies

The Guild also signs payroll companies. Payroll companies perform the payroll and other administrative functions (often including human resources) for small companies and unincorporated animation projects, and serve as the employer of record for purposes of making Guild health insurance, 401(k) plan and pension payments, and processing grievances. Payroll companies signed to the CBA include:

  • Cast & Crew Production Plr Inc.
  • EPSG Management Services (Entertainment Partners)
  • Payday Inc.
  • Quantum Payroll Services, Inc.

Membership requirements

Membership in the Animation Guild can be acquired in either of two ways:

Membership by employment

Animation artists, writers and technicians who are hired by employers signed to Guild CBAs will be required to join the Guild after thirty days' employment. The one-time initiation fee consists of two weeks' minimum scale wages for the job category in which the applicant has been hired.

Dues are charged quarterly and are also based upon the scale rate for the job category as of the beginning of the quarter. As of August 2008 the highest dues rate is $101.00.

Membership by organizing

Animation artists, writers and technicians who are employed by companies that do not have TAG agreements, may become members if and when the company is organized. Potential members may assist the Guild in its organizing efforts by signing a confidential representation card.

After the employer is organized and signed to a collective bargaining agreement, employees often are brought into membership without initiation fees.

External links

  • The Animation Guild official Web site
  • The Animation Guild blog
  • Drawing The Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson, by: TAG President Emeritus Tom Sito
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