Powerhouse Animation And The Animation Guild Reaches Agreement

A new union at the Austin-based Powerhouse Animation Studios is the IATSE Local’s first foray outside of California and New York.

The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, has been voluntarily recognized as the bargaining representative of 129 artists and production workers at Powerhouse Animation in Austin, Texas. The guild called it an “historic voluntary agreement.”

TAG first started unionizing animation studios outside of L.A. County in 2022 with its push at Harriet the Spy studio Titmouse New York, but its new union at Powerhouse Animation marks its first in a so-called right-to-work state.

The union and Powerhouse Animation management will now work on agreeing to their first contract covering a wide swath of workers, from background designers to production assistants to animators.

“Representing the Powerhouse artistic and production staff further solidifies The Animation Guild as the union setting the standard for workplace conditions in the animation industry,” TAG business representative Steve Kaplan said in a statement. Of the Powerhouse Animation leadership, which also maintains a small studio in the L.A. area that is unionized with TAG, Kaplan added, “I look forward to building on our established good relationship in Los Angeles to reach a first contract with the Austin studio.”

Powerhouse’s decision to recognize the bargaining unit also means that Texas becomes the second state outside of California to have TAG-represented animation workers.

Powerhouse CEO and chief creative officer Brad Graeber added:

“As a studio founded by animators who wanted to improve the industry, Powerhouse has always tried to put our incredible team of artists first. We have strived to be a transparent and fair company that does our best to balance the work and life of artists in an industry that often abuses talent. When we learned that our staff wanted to organize, we worked with the union to recognize their organization in a way that was fair for our very unique studio in Texas.”

Said Powerhouse Animation character artist and organizing committee member MinJi Yoon in a statement, “Now we really have the power to fortify what makes this place the groundbreaking studio it is and to advocate for our own working conditions with fair representation. At this critical point for the future of our industry, I’m also incredibly excited to stand in solidarity with the rest of entertainment workers in America.”

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