Nickelodeon has agreed to voluntarily recognize a group of production workers under the Animation Guild, avoiding a protracted election.
The group of 177 employees, which include production managers, production coordinators and post-production assistants in Los Angeles, decided to unionize in early December. The next step will be for the group to negotiate its first contract.
Nickelodeon — producer of such popular kids cartoons as “SpongeBob Square Pants,” “Big Nate” and “Rugrats” — confirmed the decision.
“By doing this, the studio has shown that they are willing and ready to recognize the hard work, time and love we pour into our productions,” the organizing committee said in a statement.
The progress marks a win not just for production workers who have been striving for higher pay and more affordable healthcare, but also the Animation Guild. The local, which is part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, has been steadily growing its coverage of workers in the animation sector.
Initially, Nickelodeon, owned by Paramount Global, had resisted recognizing the group and the inclusion of production workers into its existing collective bargaining agreement under the Animation Guild, which includes artists and computer graphics technicians.
That agreement has yet to be renewed and no dates have been set for negotiation, the union said. However, the negotiating committee will expand to include representatives from the production bargaining unit.
The union already represents animation workers at Walt Disney Studios and DreamWorks Animation.
Nickelodeon said it looked forward to bargaining an agreement with the union.
“Nickelodeon Animation Studios supports its talented and dedicated production workers who play an instrumental role in the making of our content,” said Brian Keane, executive vice president of production and operations at Nickelodeon Animation Studios.