Friday, July 12, 2013

Nick CG Ratification Vote

TAG Organizer Steve Kaplan and I have been busy the last few days ...


Burbank, CA, July 12 — Newly organized CG artists have ratified a contract negotiated between the Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE and Nickelodeon Animation Studios.

Ratification was overwhelming, with 90.1% of the bargaining unit’s 70 employees voting “Yes.” (Sixty-one ballots were cast.)

The Guild has had a contract with Nickelodeon covering traditional animation artists since 2004. Talks extending union contract protection to Nick's CG artists extended from March to July of this year, between management and a committee of seventeen employees along with Guild representatives. The primary issue was bridging from Nickelodeon’s corporate insurance to the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, to insure uninterrupted health coverage for covered employees.

Steve Hulett, the Animation Guild’s Business Representative Steve Hulett issued this 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 large 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.”

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.

A few additional points:

We have been working to organize the Computer Graphics crew at Nickelodeon for six and a half years. (We already had a contract for board artists, designers, and directors.) We had numerous setbacks along the way, but Steve Kaplan -- TAG's organizer -- never lost his resolve to see the task through and brought the staff onboard late last year.

Company and Guild spent weeks negotiating. The Guild's negotiating committee provided a fountain of information that helped a whole lot, and everybody pitched in. The only nervous moment I had was when the first four ballots counted were "No" votes. The two words that floated through my head were:

Oh. Fuck.

But my angst quickly faded when the next ten votes came up "Yes."

The final ballot count was: 55 YES, 6 NO. Congratulations to the entire Nick CG crew for making this event happen. You prove that CG artists can "go union" when the will is there.

Nick CG crew (and other staffers) during the ratification vote.


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