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Writers Strike Animation Picket in New York Doubles as Union Organizing – The Hollywood Reporter



Within the pouring rain, upwards of 100 folks marched exterior of Warner Bros. Discovery’s Park Avenue South constructing Tuesday afternoon in New York as a part of a themed Writers Guild picket that doubled as a promise to unionize east coast animation writers.

“This has been a long, horrible battle trying to get animation writing covered. We are not giving up. I’m really just here to say that when the strike is over, when we have won the contract we deserve, we are circling back to animation,” Susan Kim, WGA East animation caucus co-chair and a author/story editor behind hits like Arthur, Bubble Guppies, Braveness of the Cowardly Canine and Clifford the Large Purple Canine, advised a drenched crowd of picketers. “We are going to be back. We’re going to be better than ever. And we are going to get this goddamn industry organized.”

Throughout her transient speech — which was preceded by feedback from Michael Winship, president of WGA East, in addition to SAG-AFTRA member and WGA East strike captain Don Hooper — Kim inspired “every animation writer here whether you are currently a part of the guild or not” to sign up, promising that the union would comply with up with them within the fall.

Susan Kim on the WGA East animation themed picket exterior Warner Bros. Discovery’s New York workplaces on July 25.

Abbey White

The hassle to unionize animation’s east coast writers has been mentioned for over a decade. Like a lot of animated kids’s tv, New York’s animation writing group is just not coated by a WGA contract and doesn’t fall below the collective bargaining agreements of the Los Angeles-based Animation Guild, IASTE Native 839, which represents animation artists, writers and technicians.

It’s a guild WGA East govt director Lowell Peterson respects, dismissing notions that the east coast Guild would have any impact on the membership of the west coast TAG.

“We are very close to IASTE and IASTE has been very supportive of our strike. So we’re certainly not going to go raiding,” he advised The Hollywood Reporter of WGA East’s method to gathering union help. “I would say most animation writing in New York is non-union, and it’s not TAG at all. Particularly, children’s animation. In New York, I’ve talked to them, and they say better to have collective bargaining, fighting for health benefits and residuals, than not.”

In a press release, TAG confirmed solidarity with WGA East and its efforts to get non-union animation writers below a collective bargaining settlement. “We support the organizing of any and all members of the entertainment industry who are not protected under a collective bargaining agreement,” Steve Kaplan, enterprise consultant of The Animation Guild, IATSE Native 839 advised THR. “Right now, our focus is on standing in support of WGA and SAG-AFTRA members to get the best deal possible during this difficult time in the industry.”

The remainder of the picket line occasion was devoted to championing the intergenerational impression of animation writers, whose work on exhibits like Large Mouth, Futurama, Star Wars animated sequence, Ninja Turtles, Into the Spider-Verse, Braveness the Cowardly Canine, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig and Dexter’s Laboratory was celebrated on each the indicators created by animation artists and writers, in addition to in a playlist that featured theme songs from SpongeBob SquarePants, Arthur, ScoobyDoo, The place Are You!, Journey Time, Pink Panther, The Simpsons, Peanuts and Rugrats.

Kicking off the wet occasion, Winship thanked Ben & Jerry’s — whose Jerry Greenfield was current and donated ice cream to the picket line, served up by none apart from The Late Present host Stephen Colbert — earlier than lamenting how one of many business’s largest and longest producers of animation was “resisting” the creativity of its expertise.

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert serves up Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on the WGA East’s themed picket for animation writers.

Abbey White

“I have to say with total sincerity, the biggest thrill of my professional life was meeting the great Chuck Jones, of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes fame,” stated Winship, calling the franchise “witty” and in “no contest” with one other business juggernaut, Disney Animation. “So it breaks my heart that the company that once was the source of so much brilliance, anarchy and hilarity is now bogged down, resisting the creativity of its talent and performers, refusing to give us a proper wage and threatening to take away our livelihoods.”

“Some animation is writers guild covered work. Most in New York is not, but deserves to be. As many of you also know, organizing has been a difficult experience,” he added. “So if you are WGA members — and some are not but should be — we see you, we hear you, and we thank you for being here today. When this strike is over … we look forward to the future of working together to get more animation work covered and to welcome you into our union.”

Hooper spoke to how the AMPTP’s responses to WGA bargaining asks reminded him of his early profession days, by which he sat on an animation panel and found how writers behind animated exhibits like Beavis and Butt-Head, Codename: Youngsters Subsequent Door and Braveness the Cowardly Canine have been being handled by the studios.

“All these kids cartoons that help us to understand our emotions as children; helped us to realize who we are as teenagers and adults and how to empathize with other people; cartoons that motivate us to come outside to try to be the hero we want to be — these writers were not considered part of the Writers Guild. They did not get to qualify for health and pension to sustain themselves in this field that we love,” he stated. “These are the people that inspired me. So I’m out here to support them.”

Greg Iwinski, who began out writing for late night time on The Late Present with Stephen Colbert and Final Week Tonight earlier than pivoting in 2018 to animated kids’s sequence like Star Wars: Younger Jedi Adventures, stated that with the strike modifications can be coming and the following factor to fall can be “that animation writing pays differently.”

“I got told all these things: We could never beat the agents with packaging, we could never take on having a totally fair contract. We’re getting told now you can never have residuals based off your show being a hit,” he stated. “And what we are proving again and again and again as writers, is it that things we’ve always been told are impossible or not impossible. We can get those deals, we can change this industry. We can change things we’ve been told for 10, 20, 30, 40 years are impossible.”

A SAG-AFTRA voice actor holds up a sign

A SAG-AFTRA voice actor holds up an indication that includes The Simpsons character Principal Skinner.

Abbey White

Voice actors Dwayne Hill and Jim Conroy, who’ve labored in animated movie, TV and video video games, celebrated the work of animation writers as important to what voice actors do within the medium. “We haven’t got a word in our mouths without what you write down. You are the oil in our engine, the blood that pumps through our veins,” Hill stated.

“Without you, we’re just an improv troupe, and does anybody like an improv troupe?” Conroy added to shouts of “No!”

The 2, who’ve voiced characters on greater than 30 tasks, additionally asserted that regardless of its historic remedy in Hollywood, the medium is a long-lasting type of storytelling that deserves fairness with its live-action counterparts.

“I think animation is even more important than live action. Five-hundred years from now, nobody’s going to remember who Jerry Seinfeld was. But somebody’s going to have a Mickey Mouse t-shirt,” Conroy stated. “We keep making babies and they keep watching these shows. So what we do is eternal. Pay us that way.”

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