In the spirit of knowing their worth, the production workers behind Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty and Hulu’s Solar Opposites are moving to unionize.
On Tuesday, The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 (TAG) announced that the production staffs for both Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites have filed a petition to the National Labor Relations Board requesting the body to oversee a vote deciding whether or not the shows’ workers will unionize. Deadline reports that the petition to TAG came after Adult Swim and Hulu’s legal representatives made clear that the studious were not interested in voluntarily recognizing the bargaining unit — which consists of storyboard coordinators, production supervisors, and a variety of assistants — in its current form.
In a statement about the studios’ stonewalling, the bargaining committee pointed out that its request for voluntarily recognition came from “a super majority of the workers” on both series and that neither studio had responded to them directly about their ask.
“Attorneys representing both production companies responded to this request by contacting TAG and stating that the productions’ parent studios, Adult Swim and 20th Century Fox, were not willing to voluntarily recognize the entire unit as was proposed by The Animation Guild,” the bargaining committee noted.
The Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites’ staffers’ unionization efforts come at a time when workers throughout the industry as a whole have been pushing for more equitable working conditions and better pay. Last year, negotiations stalled between TAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for a new master agreement that would determine, among other things, new standard pay rates for animation writers and a new compensation structure for streaming programs, which are currently treated differently than their non-streaming counterparts.
Interestingly, and in stark contrast to Adult Swim and Hulu, New York City-based production house Titmouse had no issue voluntarily recognizing its workers’ desire to unionize with TAG earlier this year. Because the Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites workers who wanted to unionize in the first place are going to be the same people participating in the NLRB vote, it definitely seems as if the studios are merely trying to delay the inevitable in hopes that everyone might cool off.
But given how the workers across multiple industries are coming around on the idea of taking collective action to better guard themselves against corporate exploitation, the studios might want to consider meeting folks at the table.