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Disney's remote animators seek to join union for higher pay

FILE PHOTO: SAG-AFTRA actors and Writers Guild of America (WGA) writers ongoing strike

(Reuters) - Ten of Walt Disney's animation workers who operate remotely across six U.S. states are seeking to unionize, the Animation Guild said on Tuesday.

The workers have filed with the National Labor Relations Board for an official union election and sought representation by the Animation Guild and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).

"Artists and writers who do the same work for the same studios should have the same rights and standards on the job, regardless of where they live," Animation Guild organizer Ben Speight said in a statement.

Walt Disney Animation Studios was among employers that did not extend union contracts to remote workers hired outside of LA County, resulting in lower pay and limited benefits, the guild added.

Walt Disney did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

According to the union, after COVID restrictions were lifted and return-to-work protocols were initiated, various employers told remote animation workers that their working arrangements would fall outside contractual boundaries.

Disney top boss Bob Iger told employees to work from corporate offices four days a week from March, CNBC had reported in January.

Disney was one of the studios impacted by the 118-day strike by the SAG-AFTRA union, demanding higher wages for Hollywood actors and writers, and safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence.

(Reporting by Arsheeya Bajwa in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)