Nickelodeon Animation Studios has agreed to voluntarily recognize 177 production workers as members of the Animation Guild, avoiding the need for an NLRB election.
The Animation Guild — also known as IATSE Local 839 — already represents about 400 artistic workers at Nickelodeon, including storyboard artists, character designers and writers.
The new members include production managers, production coordinators and post-production assistants. Those jobs include many entry-level employees, and they tend to make less than the other guild members.
The guild announced in December that the workers had signed cards seeking to unionize, as they sought to address high healthcare costs and low pay.
Ryan Brodsky, a production coordinator, said in a union press release in December many workers could not afford to live in Los Angeles, and had “taken the shame of asking our parents for money so we can pay rent and eat.”
“We’re working full time for one of the largest corporations on earth and there’s no reason that our parents should be funding this multi-billion dollar corporation,” Brodsky said.
Production workers are represented by IATSE Local 871 in the live-action world. But in animation, they tend not to be unionized.
Steve Kaplan, the business representative of Local 839, said the union hoped to maximize its leverage in negotiations by representing as many Nickelodeon employees as possible.
The new members of the guild will be covered under a side letter that will be negotiated during the next round of bargaining with Nickelodeon, which is set to take place sometime this year.
“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,” Kaplan said in a statement. “I look forward to bargaining a successor agreement.”
The company also issued a statement in which it said it was looking forward to negotiations.
“Nickelodeon Animation Studios supports its talented and dedicated production workers who play an
instrumental role in the making of our content,” said Brian Keane, the company’s executive vice president of production and operations. “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.”