Writers Guild Plans Picket of Nickelodeon in Burbank
Writers Guild of America members today plan to picket outside the Burbank studios of cable network Nickelodeon, a day after the union complained to the National Labor Relations Board that network supervisors have been obstructing efforts to organize writers on six animated shows.
Wednesday’s complaint was the third filed by the WGA in two months. Guild leaders have been seeking to extend union coverage to writers of all prime-time animation shows but have had difficulty since April getting authorization for an organizational vote of writers for Nickelodeon, which is one of the Viacom-owned MTV networks.
Animation writers for Fox network shows “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill,” “Futurama” and “Family Guy” are already covered in a side agreement to the WGA contract.
“The guild’s priority over the next two years is to organize the animated shows and other shows on cable that are currently not covered,” Patric M. Verrone, a WGA board member and “Futurama” writer, said Wednesday.
Nickelodeon officials say the WGA’s efforts are premature. The labor relations board is still verifying signatures on cards the Writers Guild submitted as part of its request to hold an organizational election, according to a written statement by Nickelodeon.
“The NLRB has not yet determined whether the petition should be processed to an election or dismissed,” the statement said. “We are fully cooperating with the NLRB and are awaiting their decision. Until that time, we don’t think it’s appropriate to try this issue in the press or to comment publicly on our personnel matters.”
The WGA has alleged, in its complaints with the labor relations board, that Nickelodeon supervisors have retaliated by denying raises and benefits to pro-union writers of the “Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius” program, have steered employees to interview with federal labor investigators without disclosing that such sessions were voluntary and have yanked union materials off company bulletin boards.
“We’re fighting the good fight for the writers of Nickelodeon shows, but the company has been tripping all over itself trying to get in our way,” Verrone said.
Nickelodeon spokeswoman Marianne Romano denied that network supervisors have done anything wrong or discriminated against its writers.
“We’ve always dealt fairly and responsibly with our employees, and we continue to do so,” Romano said.
The six Nickelodeon animated shows subject to the union drive are “Invader Zim,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Constant Payne,” “Hey Arnold!,” “Fairly Odd Parents” and “Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius.”
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