As a demonstration of mutual solidarity, the Art Babbitt Appreciation Society (ABAS) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) have formalized a strategic alliance in efforts to unionize animation workers in Canada.
Through this alliance, both groups will continue to jointly develop collaborative strategies to improve working conditions for animation workers across the country. ABAS is a grassroots group of Canadian animation workers that has been working for several years to empower workers in their industry. IATSE is the largest union representing animation workers in North America and has done so since the 1940s.
“We have a long and successful history of representing animation workers in the US,” said IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb, “Our alliance with the Art Babbitt Appreciation Society is another step forward in improving working conditions for animation workers in Canada.”
ABAS and IATSE bring a diverse range of experience working with animation workers and share similar principles regarding the improvement of working conditions in the sector. These principles include, but are not limited to:
- Maintaining active and ongoing communication within the animation community.
- Ensuring workers are paid fairly for the work they do, including overtime.
- Lobbying to end the application in the animation sector of the BC High Technology Professional (HTP) Employment Standards Act exemption from overtime provisions.
- Providing portable benefits, as animation workers often have multiple employers and work in multiple jurisdictions.
- Addressing work-related health problems and advocating for safe and healthy workplaces.
- Establishing strong union representation for animation workers through a recognized international union.
Vanessa Kelly, ABAS founder and board member, “Animation workers in Canada have been exploited and treated unfairly for years. Our alliance with the IATSE moves us toward securing strong union representation to address the systemic problems that leave animation workers vulnerable to the whims of our multibillion-dollar clients and the corporate priorities of our employers.”
The Art Babbitt Appreciation Society was started in 2016 by a handful of animation workers concerned for the future of the Vancouver Animation Industry. It has since grown into a collective of hundreds of workers which spans multiple provinces, including B.C., Ontario, Montreal and the Maritimes. The ABAS advocates for better working conditions for everyone in the Animation and Visual Effects sectors, and their main goal is to form union locals across Canada through IATSE. ABAS has accomplished much in its three-year tenure, including targeted poster campaigns, engagement with local and international media and have begun the first steps toward union negotiations for animation workers in Canada. ABAS has also participated in post-doctoral research and has lobbied the government on the issue of the High Technology Professional exemption that has been used inappropriately to deny animation workers their right to overtime pay. The Art Babbitt Appreciation Society continues to grow daily and will continue to agitate until the majority of the Canadian Animation and VFX sectors have achieved union locals that can take up the torch of properly representing and speaking for workers.