Unionize: Starbucks & Animation Guild (TAG)

In the United States, employees have the statutory right to form labor unions under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and which right is administered and facilitated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRA guarantees the right of most private sector employees to organize into unions, engage in collective bargaining, and take collective action. As of April 2021, Starbucks employees at more than 200 stores nationwide have petitioned the NLRB for elections to join unions. Presently, 20 Starbucks stores have joined Workers United. Workers United has a rich and lengthy history and represents more than 86,000 workers in apparel, textile, industrial laundry, food service, manufacturing, warehouse distribution, and non-profit industries in the United States and Canada. Indeed, Canadian workers at Dragon Age 4 are applying to form a union according to reports. Issues important to employees seeking to unionize include higher wages (Starbucks is rising to $15/hour summer of 2022), workplace safety standards (which problems in particular arose during the pandemic), consistency in scheduling, and a more employee-friendly environment in all aspects, from price points to store size, to give staff the maximum benefits for giving “everything that they have” to the company.

The Animation Guild (TAG) is also seeking to unionize IT workers in a new effort for The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad!, in total, about 100 production staff. This will be the first time that the TAG has represented IT workers. The first step is filing a petition with the NLRB for an election by workers to unionize. According to reports, petitions in all of the aforementioned shows have been filed as of the first week of June 2022. If elected to unionize, TAG will represent production managers, production supervisors, production coordinators, production assistants, writers assistants, associate producers, office assistants, IT supervisors, IT technicians, and others across the shows in animation production. Issues important to pro-union staff include healthcare, pensions, and transparency in compensation. TAG has been negotiating a new, 3-year agreement with major film and television studios and streamers (new media) to offer wage increases, better terms for writers, addition of holidays, creation of a labor-focused committee, and changes to language on “new media,” to cover current developments. Production workers on animated sitcom Solar Opposites already voted to join TAG and are now part of IATSE Local 839.

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