The animation crew of “Rick and Morty”, one of Adult Swim’s newer blockbusters, has ratified a new labor agreement that will give them hourly wage boosts and health and pension benefits.
The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE, was contacted by show staffers in early summer and engineered an organizing drive with artists on the show -- which culminated in a union contract on Monday. Steve Kaplan, the organizer for the Animation Guild, said: “This is an incredible victory for the Rick and Morty crew. They were the drivers on this, exercising their leverage at the right time. Management knew the artists were a valuable asset to the show. And to their credit, they did the right thing by quickly agreeing to a contract.”
Steve Hulett, TAG’s long-time business representative, added: “I’ve been repping the Guild for a while now, and this was as focused and dedicated a crew as I’ve seen. After management realized the artists were serious about coming under the Animation Guild’s jurisdiction, they moved quickly to negotiate a fair and comprehensive contract. The talks were intense at times, but also cordial and professional.”
The Animation Guild represents over 3,300 animation workers in Southern California. Over the past three years, it has seen a steady increase in its membership. ...
The way this went down:
1) "Rick and Morty" crew is unhappy with working without a TAG contract. Contacts the Animation Guild.
2) Guild springs into action collecting representation cards from crew, communicating with "R & M" artists, etc.
3) Guild files with the NLRB (that's the National Labor Relations Board, for those who struggle with acronyms). In the course of e-mails and phone calls to the Board, the Animation Guild discovers that "Rick and Morty" (Season #2), is being done under a different corporate entity than "Rick and Morty" (Season #1). And we have the wrong company listed on the g.d. rep cards.
4) Guild springs into action again, and calls a meeting of the crew to explain the situation. It is noted that time is of the essence. (Season #2 will wrap in a couple of months). Crew votes to hit the bricks in order to get a contract.
5) Company finds out how crew has voted. Company becomes concerned. Company dispatches lawyer to talk to the Animation Guild about a contract.
6) Contract talks begin on Friday September 5th, going over the weekend and concluding on Monday, September 8th. Guild takes contract proposal from company to crew on Monday morning. Crew, standing on sidewalk, votes to ratify contract proposal, which includes retroactive payments for wages, also pension and health benefits.
7) The Era of Good Feeling begins.
And now you know the rest of the story. Kudos to organizer Steve Kaplan for being the point of the spear on this.