The Simpsons' Production Crew Has Officially Unionized

20th Television Animation, the studio behind Fox's "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," and "American Dad," has agreed to acknowledge the production workers from the three shows forming a union within The Animation Guild (TAG, the first of many acronyms here). This voluntary recognition is a legal term that signifies an employer's official recognition of an organization as the bargaining agent for a group of employees.

Last month, news broke that TAG, one of the unions in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), was vying to represent around 100 workers from the three shows in its first-ever attempt at collective bargaining. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the workers include "production managers, production supervisors, production coordinators, production assistants, writers assistants, associate producers, office assistants, IT supervisors, IT technicians, and others."

Animators on the shows have union representation through TAG, while writers and actors are covered through the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Until now, however, their co-workers — the invaluable crew members listed above — have not received the same retirement or health care benefits, and their positions were often dismissed as a temporary rung on the career ladder, even though they were long-term gigs for many people.

NPR now reports that the workers have won the right to unionize with 90% supermajority support across the three shows.

Homer Simpson and his pals unionized, too

IATSE made headlines last year when it almost went on strike, a move that could have resulted in widespread production shutdowns in Hollywood had a deal between it and producers not been hammered out at the last minute. With the production workers on "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," and "American Dad" winning voluntary recognition to form their union, IATSE and TAG are building on advances they have made for workers on other animated shows like "Solar Opposites" and "Rick and Morty."

"Family Guy" and "American Dad," which were created and co-created by Seth MacFarlane, are on their 20th and 19th seasons, respectively. In the case of "The Simpsons" — which, at 33 seasons, is America's longest-running sitcom and animated series — unionizing is actually part of the show's narrative history.

In "Last Exit to Springfield," the 17th episode of "The Simpsons" season 4, Homer Simpson himself acted as a union leader, rallying his co-workers at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. They were about to give up their dental plans for a free keg of beer, when Homer suddenly realized this would mean he'd have to pay for daughter Lisa's braces out of pocket. Without unions, Homer contended, his co-worker, Lenny, "wouldn't have that diamond" in his tooth, nor would Gummy Joe have his single "chomper" (which doubled as a can opener).

With or without beer or dental plans, it's good to know production workers for "The Simpsons" and its two 20th Television Animation cousins are now more well-positioned to receive better benefits and be on equal footing with the other cast and crew members who help bring the shows to life.