Nickelodeon animation production workers unionize

After a long day of work on the popular Nickelodeon show ‘Big Nate’, Claire Norris, 25, returns home to the Glendale apartment she shares and seeks gigs for walking and pet sitting during her free time to cover her bills and finance the training she needs.

Although she works for one of Hollywood’s biggest animation studios, her $25-an-hour salary as a production coordinator doesn’t go far in Los Angeles.

The University of Texas film school graduate still relies on her family’s financial support to allow herself to work the job she loves, said Norris, who joined Nickelodeon in March 2021.

“I’m just disappointed that Nickelodeon is using our passion against us and using our passion to exploit us because I love my job,” Norris said in an interview. “I want this to be a lasting career that people can grow with, have families with and support themselves with.”

Norris is among 177 Nickelodeon production workers who voted last month to unionize in the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, in a bid to win higher pay and more affordable health care, the union said in a statement.

More than 65% of production workers have signed cards indicating they would like to be represented by the guild, Animation Guild spokesperson Alexi Drosu said in a statement.

A representative for Nickelodeon was not immediately available for comment.

It is the largest group of animation production workers to vote to join the guild, he said. The union represents animation workers, including artists from Walt Disney and Dreamworks Animation.

The union, which has around 5,600 active members, has worked to expand its coverage of workers in the animation sector which, unlike other parts of the film and television industry, is not not heavily unionized outside of Los Angeles.

Nickelodeon has yet to voluntarily recognize the bargaining unit, which could force the group into an extended election, union officials said.

The Animation Guild already has a collective bargaining agreement with Nickelodeon that applies to about 400 artists, writers and technicians, which it was about to renegotiate. While the union wants the deal to cover production workers, Nickelodeon wants them to have a separate contract that doesn’t have the same rights and productions, the union said in a statement.

“The company chooses to put this relationship in jeopardy by forcing us to go to the [National Labor Relations Board] and possibly take escalating steps to meet our goal of including production staff,” Animation Guild Sales Representative Steve Kaplan said in a statement.

The Animation Guild has been has been working to expand the scope of its Nickelodeon contract since its inception in 2004.

Earlier this year, workers at Titmouse Studios in New York voted overwhelmingly to join the Animation Guild, becoming the first animation workers outside of Southern California and the first production staff to join the union.

If Nickelodeon production workers join the local, it will bring the total number of production workers in the union to 500.

“Nickelodeon is always an amazing place to work,” said Abigail Bokun, another production coordinator at Nickelodeon who is one of the group’s organizers. “The community I’ve created in this effort to bring artists and production together under the same contract has made our love for the cartoons we make even stronger. I just hope Nickelodeon can join us in this sense of the community by voluntarily recognizing us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *