Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Nickelodeon Animation Agrees to Voluntarily Recognize Production Workers

About a month after The Animation Guild filed for a National Labor Relations Board election, Nickelodeon has chosen to bypass that process by agreeing to recognize a bargaining unit of 177 workers.

Nickelodeon Animation Studios has agreed to voluntarily recognize The Animation Guild as the bargaining representative for production workers at the studio. Production workers at the Nickelodeon studio overwhelmingly decided to unionize in early December 2022 and requested voluntary recognition.

To date, this is the largest bargaining unit of production workers to organize under The Animation Guild. The proposed unit would cover 177 employees in specified classifications including Production Managers, Production Coordinators, Post-Production Assistants, Asset Production Coordinators, and more.

The Organizing Committee, which led the drive to unionize production workers at the studio, stated, “The organizing committee is overwhelmingly thrilled that Nickelodeon Animation Studios has decided to voluntarily recognize their production workers as members of The Animation Guild. By doing this, the studio has shown that they are willing and ready to recognize the hard work, time, and love we pour into our productions. We are so excited to work with them and our artist colleagues to come to an agreement that reiterates their support for what we do.”

The Animation Guild has an existing collective bargaining agreement with Nickelodeon Animation Studios that covers more than 400 artists, including CG technicians, storyboard artists, character designers, and writers. No negotiation dates have been set yet. However, the Negotiations Committee will expand to include representatives from the production bargaining unit.

According to Steve Kaplan, Business Representative of The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, “I am glad that we were able to reach an agreement where Nickelodeon Animation Studios recognized both the determination of the animation production workers and our long-standing productive labor relations relationship. I look forward to bargaining a successor agreement.”

“Nickelodeon Animation Studios supports its talented and dedicated production workers who play an instrumental role in the making of our content,” said Brian Keane, Executive Vice President, Production and Operations, Nickelodeon Animation Studios. “The studio’s collaborative relationship with The Animation Guild spans many years, and we look forward to bargaining an agreement with the union covering this new group of employees.”

In their initial announcement of their organizing effort at Nickelodeon, production workers went public about their complaints of inadequate pay, with one worker saying, “the current pay gap for production roles makes it near impossible to survive in Los Angeles.” Another stated that “many” colleagues worked additional jobs or overtime, sought loans, or asked friends and family for financial help.

In early December, TAG claimed that the company responded to a request for voluntary recognition by attempting to exclude certain workers from joining the bargaining unit and by seeking to cover production workers under a separate contract from studio artists. The voluntary recognition agreement resolves those concerns, with TAG’s desired bargaining unit included in full and the production workers covered under the same contract as Nickelodeon artists, but under their own sideletter.

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