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Union animators OK pact

Contract passes despite committee nix

Hollywood’s union animators have ratified a three-year contract with studios, with 83.6% backing the deal despite a negative recommendation by the union’s negotiating committee.

Pact, providing 3% annual wage increases and covering about 2,300 employees, received 750 yes votes and 145 no votes from members of Local 839 of the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Agreement covers cartoonists, animation writers and technicians and CGI workers over the period between last Aug. 1 and July 31, 2003.

Pact, which contains no rollbacks, includes minimum rate increases of 8%, 4% and 3%, higher health and pension contributions for writers and storyboard artists and a new screen credit arbitration framework. It also changes the title of “animation story person” to “animation story person/animation writer.”

In a 12-1 vote, the negotiating committee had recommended against ratification and cited problems with the negotiating process, unequal salary increases, artist testing, credit placement, late payments and the definition of writers (Daily Variety, Sept. 5).

In a statement Tuesday, Local 839 prexy Tom Sito thanked the negotiating team and IATSE president Thomas Short for their efforts.

“This is the best contract settlement we’ve had in 20 years,” Sito said. “In this sad time of labor turmoil in L.A., the livelihood of Hollywood cartoonists at least is secure for the next three years.”

But negotiating committee member Earl Kress said the new contract falls short of bringing minimums up to going rates and should have been bargained more aggressively. “There are no tangible gains, and no one will have an extra dollar in their pockets under this deal,” he added.

Kress also faulted union leaders for saying that if the contract was not ratified by the end of this month, local members would not be able to participate in a health plan surplus distribution.

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