Production workers on Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites — both popular animated series co-created by Justin Roiland — are unionizing; they’ve filed to join the Animation Guild, also known as IATSE Local 839. Neither Adult Swim nor Hulu’s parent company, 20th Century Fox, have voluntarily recognised the unit.
Deadline reports that the workers in the unit include “production managers, production supervisors, design assistants, casting assistants, storyboard coordinators and office production coordinators, and assistants.” In a guild statement provided to the trade, Solar Opposites production manager Kallan Zimmerman pointed out that “Production workers are the heart of the animation industry and have been underappreciated and undercompensated for far too long. It’s time for us to have a seat at the table alongside our artist colleagues.”
Unfortunately, neither studio involved is currently on board with the organising effort. Deadline quotes the guild as noting “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 recognise the entire unit as was proposed by the Animation Guild.”
As the Verge points out, this unionization effort is just the latest example of an ongoing movement in the entertainment industry toward better working conditions; earlier this year, management at New York production studio Titmouse (Harriet the Spy, Superjail!) voluntarily recognised a similar unionization effort among its animation workers, which the Hollywood Reporter identified as “3-D modelers, directors, storyboard artists, and prop designers, among others.” It also comes as a time when the Animation Guild itself is still trying to work out a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, after talks stalled last year; they’re due to resume later this year, according to Deadline.