Today, I met with grassroots worker organizers to thank them for their leadership in organizing unions. From the Amazon Labor Union to IATSE at Titmouse Productions, these folks are inspiring a movement of workers across the country to fight for the pay and benefits they deserve. pic.twitter.com/QZwdUEX3Xp
After their meeting, Harris tweeted:
Rachel Gitlevich, an animator and new 839 member from the Titmouse New York negotiating team, was invited to the White House to meet President Biden! Her passion for workers’ rights in the animation industry makes me proud that she is representing TAG Local 839 https://t.co/grWWq5QLLf
We are in a new era of the labor movement with unprecedented interest in labor unions. Today, with @POTUS and @SecMartyWalsh, I met with grassroots labor organizers who are fighting for better wages, benefits, and respect for workers. pic.twitter.com/S20A1fXdHo
According to a White House readout, Biden thanked the organizers for their work in key leadership roles, necessary to facilitate such a movement. After the meeting, the president tweeted:
The Animation Guild has had five groups of production workers vote to unionize within the past few months. Those votes represented the first time production workers at any U.S. studio had done so in recent history. And just this week, it was announced that editorial employees at Bento Box had voted to join up with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and its post-production local, the Motion Picture Editors Guild.
Gitlevich’s union organizing took place at Titmouse New York, whose founder and president Chris Prynoski told Cartoon Brew:
— President Biden (@POTUS) May 5, 2022
It is really a testament to how much Washington cares about this issue that they even bothered to have this meeting. The point of this meeting is to inspire workers across the country to organize. I got an opportunity to talk to [Amazon labor organizer] Chris Smalls, and I asked him, “How did you organize 8,000 employees?” We were 114. The formula was identical to what we did at Titmouse. The language was identical to what we did at Titmouse. Labor organizing is just 1-on-1 conversations and meeting people where they’re at. How do you get a person from the point of, “I’m scared, this is risky” to “I can do this.” That’s the biggest hurdle. So by having this meeting at the White House, hopefully that pushes somebody over that hurdle.
The White House visit comes as the #NewDealForAnimation movement continues to thrive. A number of animation workers across the country, and north of the border, have already voted in favor of unionizing.
The Animation Guild president Jeanette Moreno King also tweeted her support.
The #NewDealForAnimation made it all the way to the White House this week, as workers from several union organizations, including the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), made a trip to the nation’s capital.
Rachel Gitlevich, a worker from Titmouse New York, was one of the leaders in attendance and invited to a follow-up discussion with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. Attendees discussed how they organized their unions and what kinds of resistance they faced along the way. Other attendees included workers from Amazon, Starbucks, REI, the Baltimore Public Library, and Paizo.
It was so cool to see photos of Rachel in the White House yesterday! As supporters of the union movement, we are proud of the Titmouse artists and support them as we move into the future together!
UPDATE: This story has been updated with comments from Rachel Gitlevich and Chris Prynoski.
In a statement shared with Cartoon Brew, Gitlevich spoke about her experience of organizing at Titmouse:
On Thursday, U.S. president Joe Biden invited grassroots union organizers to the White House to discuss the recent national upswell in support for the organized labor movement. We’re told that the White House was specifically interested in meeting with younger organizers that the public wouldn’t normally associate with unions. They had reached out to IATSE, which in turn reached out to its Local 839 branch, The Animation Guild, a group that has enjoyed plenty of recent successes with young workers standing up for their rights.
— Jeanette Moreno King (@PresidentTAG839) May 5, 2022
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 5, 2022