Nickelodeon Animation Studios CG artists have ratified a new Animation Guild, IATSE 839 contract on Friday (with a Yes vote from 90.1% of the bargaining unit’s 61 employees who voted). The key issue at play was bridging from Nickelodeon’s corporate insurance to the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, to insure uninterrupted health coverage for covered employees who change employers. The new contract also includes salary minimums and severance pay.
As Animation Guild business representative Steve Hulett noted in a statement, “Five years ago, the Animation Guild went to work organizing Nick’s CG department. We had a number of setbacks, but last year, thanks to Guild organizer Steve Kaplan, communication with employees accelerated and support for the Guild increased dramatically. Early in February, Nickelodeon agreed to a neutral card count and negotiations for a contract started soon thereafter.”
“Talks went on for months. TAG had a (17-member) negotiating committee of unit employees, most in their early to mid-twenties, and they were focused and tenacious through several long days of work. I doubt we could have reached agreement without them. Nick negotiators Bill Cole and Kevin Ellman were tough but flexible, and had a lot to do with the parties reaching agreement.”
For the past nine years, the Guild has had a contract with Nickelodeon covering traditional animation artists. Talks on extending union contract protection to Nick’s CG artists began in March of this year and went on through July.
Final negotiations over the Memorandum of Agreement wrapped on July 10, with ratification by unit employees taking place at the studio’s Burbank facility on Friday afternoon.