The crew behind Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty reached a new labor agreement last week with the Animation Guild, providing them with hourly wage increases, healthcare, and pension benefits.
Most Adult Swim animated shows aren’t union affiliated, so this was big news considering most of the channel’s artists are paid below the union minimums. Rick and Morty employees contacted the Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE, a few months back to organize a change with the show’s artists.
“This is an incredible victory for the Rick and Morty crew,” Animation Guild member Steven Kaplan said in a statement. “They were the drivers on this, exercising their leverage at the right time. Management knew the artists were a valuable asset to the show. And to their credit, they did the right thing by quickly agreeing to a contract.”
“This was as focused and dedicated a crew as I’ve seen,” Guild rep Steve Hulett said. “After management realized the artists were serious about coming under the Animation Guild’s jurisdiction, they moved quickly to negotiate a fair and comprehensive contract. The talks were intense at times, but also cordial and professional.”
The show’s two-dozen US artists work at Rick and Morty LLC, which operates out of the Starburns Industries building in Burbank, California.
However, Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland was less than thrilled with the events that unfolded. In a subreddit rant, Roiland said the Animation Guild was “unprofessional,” “desperate,” and “indecent.” In order to make sure he wasn’t misunderstood, he also wrote: “FUCK THE UNION.” Roiland’s comments were later deleted.
While other outlets painted Roiland as some kind of angry, anti-union slave-driver, he was quick to dispel those myths. “I am not anti-union at all,” Roiland exclusively told BubbleBlabber yesterday. “I just wasn’t a fan of how the union rep handled things.”
Roiland previously said: “By the time we found out about this, the union was strong-arming the crew to walk out. We had almost no time to put together a deal with the union. It was incredibly stressful and absolutely unnecessary. To put a deal together over a weekend is just nuts. We would have landed on just as good a deal regardless of this gross time limit put upon us by the union. It left a really bad taste in my mouth.”
Roiland reinforced the fact that he was blindsided by the allegedly sudden complaints, but loves his crew, wants nothing but the best working conditions and benefits for them, and was only peeved about how it all went down.
The Animation Guild countered his comments with a lengthy post pointing out some claimed inaccuracies about Roiland’s side of the story, and quite the back-and-forth developed. Without getting into the dirty and incredibly-detailed details (not to mention some creepy foreshadowing from last year) both sides appeared to have had their missteps and half-truths along the way, but in the end it fortunately worked out alright. In our humble opinion, we should simply be glad that it’s all in the past now, and time to get back to making some sweet-ass cartoons.
Rick and Morty’s second season is slated for a Summer 2015 premiere.