July 12, 2013 7:05pm PT by Jonathan Handel
Nickelodeon CG Artists Overwhelmingly Ratify Union Contract
Newly organized computer graphics artists have ratified a contract negotiated between the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, and Nickelodeon Animation Studios, the union announced Friday, with a Yes vote from 90.1 percent of the bargaining unit’s 61 employees who voted. (Nine employees out of the 70-member unit didn’t vote.)
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 who change employers. In addition, organizer Steve Kaplan told The Hollywood Reporter,the new contract achieves salary minimums and severance pay.
Animation Guild business representative Steve Hulett said 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-20s, 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.”
The guild has had a contract with Nickelodeon covering traditional animation artists since 2004. Talks on extending union contract protection to Nick's CG artists lasted from March to July of this year.
Kaplan said he viewed the contract as a victory related to the union’s campaign to organize live-action visual-effects artists.
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.
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