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Artist Rights

‘Rick and Morty’ Co-Creator Justin Roiland: “Fuck The Union”

Last weekend the Los Angeles animator’s union The Animation Guild announced that they had helped the overworked and underpaid artists on Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty ratify a new labor agreement. It’s a remarkable story—rarely does an entire TV series crew, like Rick & Morty’s, decide to pull together in mid-production to address poor labor conditions. By sticking together, they achieved their desired results.

One person who didn’t appreciate the unionization effort, however, was Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland. After our story was published on Saturday, Roiland went on the Rick & Morty subreddit and called the Animation Guild “unprofessional,” “not needed,” “desperate,” and “indecent.” Then to make clear how he really felt, he wrote, “FUCK THE UNION.” Roiland’s posts, along with the rest of the thread, were deleted earlier today.

In Roiland’s Reddit rant, he claimed that as a showrunner, he was blindsided by the Animation Guild, which was representing the artists on his show:

The problem here is that the union went after the OLD studio (Starburns) and the new studio (Rick and Morty LLC) had no idea. 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.

The Animation Guild countered today with a lengthy post on its blog, explaining that the reason the deal had to be put together hastily was because Starburns had been uncooperative and not told them that a shell company had been formed to produce the show’s second season. Guild business rep Steve Hulett wrote that Starburns wouldn’t return his phone calls, and that it was only after the Guild filed the artists’ petitions with the National Labor Relations Board that Starburns informed them they were no longer producing the show. A second company called Rick and Morty LLC had been created for the express purpose of making the currently-in-production second season.

Dan Harmon. (Photo via Shutterstock)
Dan Harmon. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Research reveals that Rick and Morty LLC, which was formed in April of this year, was launched by Rick and Morty’s co-creator Dan Harmon, who also happens to be a partner in Starburns Industries. So yes, while Roiland’s claim that the Guild listed the wrong studio on the petition to unionize is correct, it’s disingenuous to assert that “by the time we found out about this…we had almost no time to put together a deal with the union.” The old studio and new studio have one of the same principals, not to mention that they operate out of the same building. Is Roiland claiming that Dan Harmon withheld information from himself?

Roiland’s claim that they didn’t have time to negotiate doesn’t hold up for other reasons, too. For example, the studio called a meeting with artists to give them the classic “unions are scary” talk. They told artists, among other things, that the Animation Guild offered a poor health plan. Of course, their own company offered no health plan, which was one of the reasons that artists wanted to organize. Regardless of what they told the artists, the anti-union meeting hosted by Rick and Morty LLC’s bosses suggests that they were well aware of the artists’ organizing efforts and didn’t have to wait until the last moment to strike a deal.

In another now-deleted comment, Roiland continued to point a finger at the Animation Guild, claiming that they made his artists want to strike against him:

I also had no idea anyone was unhappy. No one told me anything. One minute it’s just work as usual, the next minute there’s a walk out. Okay. Cool. Those union reps really know how to get people worked up and pissed off. Again, totally unnecessary on a show like ours. I LOVE AND CARE ABOUT MY CREW. If I knew they were unhappy we would have done something about it.

But the artists working on the show were the ones who approached the union for help. Guild rep Hulett writes, “The crew, unhappy about their treatment (they were on 60-hour weeks which made their 40-hour weekly wages still well below TAG minimums) approached us early in the summer and we held multiple meetings prior to a vote for any job action.”


The Animation Guild forced its hand only after Starburns/Rick and Morty LLC revealed to the National Labor Relations Board that they couldn’t proceed with the unionization effort because they’d targeted the wrong studio. Continues Hulett:

[W]e were faced with going back to square one with rep cards and filing a new petition, and knowing we didn’t have a lot of time to do this, or going to the crew and explaining the situation and seeing what they wanted to do.

We held a lengthy meeting with most of the “Rick and Morty” artistic staff on the evening of Thursday, September 4th detailing the above and asking them what they wanted to do. Doing a strike to leverage the company to a contract was one of the discussion topics. After much back and forth, almost everyone in the meeting voted to walk off the job the following Monday (September 8th). No arm twisting by the Animation Guild was involved.

We were told that word of the vote reached Rick and Morty LLC soon after, which is likely true because the company then moved with alacrity to sit down and negotiate with the Guild. Their lawyer called on Friday afternoon and agreed to begin negotiating toward a deal “in good faith”. She also asked that we agree to NOT pull the crew on Monday.

To which we said no. (We never set any deadline to reach a deal, but we never agreed to call off any alleged strike.)

We then negotiated with the company through the weekend. Bright and early Monday morning, the company’s representative again asked us to not pull the crew. Again we said no, saying if we had reached a proposal by noon-time we would take it to the staff and see if they wanted to hit the bricks or not. Happily, the company and guild reached a tentative agreement at 11:00, and [organizer] Steve Kaplan and I drove it to the “Rick and Morty” crew around 11:20. They were out on the sidewalk waiting for us, and we went through the deal points. When we finished, the staff voted to ratify the deal. There was no strike.

In the end, this is a victory for animation artists who work in the trenches. The couple of dozen artists who work on Rick and Morty aren’t getting special treatment; they’re simply receiving the same wages and benefits enjoyed by thousands of other artists who work in the Los Angeles animation industry. Even Roiland concedes that he’s ok with his crew being compensated fairly: “I am happy the crew has benefits and all the other perks that come with unionization, I just don’t like how the whole thing went down.”

The Animation Guild performed exactly as it was intended, which is to achieve better working conditions for artists using whatever leverage they have in a situation. In this case, the leverage they had was a group of artists who revolted due to inferior labor conditions. Roiland’s anger at the union is misplaced. Instead of blaming the Animation Guild for improving the lot of his artists, Roiland should be thanking the Guild for making him do what any responsible employer would have done in the first place.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

  • Beamish Kinowerks

    A new documentary about Dan Harmon is making the rounds, and he’ll be making a number of personal appearances. Anyone bold enough to bring this issue up to him?

  • Dont worry, be happy.

    Happy for the Artists…..
    Wish the Union would have put this much effort into preventing all the Outsourcing of work from LA studios to India, China, Canada etc….

    • jonhanson

      Any idea how the Union could prevent outsourcing? I’m pro-Unions but I also understand how they drive work away. But then again I’m also a pessimist so maybe I’m not seeing the solution clearly.

      • Steve Hulett

        To put your mind at ease, the Animation Guild represents more work in Los Angeles now than at any time in its history, more than in the red hot 1990s.

        • jonhanson

          Really good to hear! For all the things that may be wrong with the history I have noticed looking at movie release dates how we’re seeing more animated features now than at pretty much any time in history.

          To verify my impression I went through wikipedia’s list of animation features by year:

          1940 – 2
          1950 – 5
          1960 – 2
          1970 – 20
          1980 – 30
          1990 – 23
          2000 – 65
          2010 – 85

          I’d like to do a chart for animated films per year for the past century.

        • Dont worry, be happy.

          Except for all the work that got outsourced/moved to other countries. Sony–shutting down moving to Vancouver. Dreamworks—India Studio, now China Studio. Disney—Indian Studio. etc etc etc….
          There’s a *LOT* of work the Union just let go out of the US.

          • Jason

            Yeah I’m sure only the Union let go of all that. All by itself. All the unions fault, clearly.

          • Dont worry, be happy.

            But tell me *What* the Union did to *Prevent* it?

          • jonhanson

            No one has still answered my question about what the Union could do.

          • big bad balloon

            Google The Animation Guild and speak to Steve Hulett directly. He’s probably the best source for now. I doubt you’ll get a straight answer on here.

          • AmidAmidi

            Probably because you’re way off-topic. Further comments not focused on the “Rick and Morty” will be deleted.

          • DangerMaus

            I wouldn’t have posted my last comment if I had seen this first.

          • DangerMaus

            The “Union” can’t do anything, because it isn’t internationalized like the corporations that they are dealing with. The only way it could have done something is if it’s negotiated agreements had to be carried over to where ever the work was farmed out to. If corporations couldn’t escape Unionized wages and benefits then the incentive to move would be vastly reduced.

            “Free Trade” agreements and “Globalization” was always about destroying organized labour and the ability of workers to negotiate fair wages and benefits. It was ridiculous to expect that workers in the U.S, Europe and Canada, with labour laws and protections, could compete on a totally free and “equal” basis with workers in countries like China, that are essentially slave labor states, without adequate labour protections.

            Thanks to “Free Trade” and “Globalization” it is a free-for-all with workers fighting each other for limited opportunities and Governments crawling on their hands and knees, cutting their own fiscal throats, with subsidies and tax cuts for a few measly jobs or even just the promise of job creation. We are in a race to the bottom and all we can do is watch. Unions, workers, even governments, cannot do anything until we all wake up and realize that we have been sold a bill of goods about the “benefits” of Globalization.

          • chav

            The guild has recently been aggressively lobbying on behalf of the multinationals for greatly increased US taxpayer-funded industry-welfare (ie. California tax credits on in-state tv/film labor). Apparently they feel giving Time Warner a hand out is the only way to keep them from shipping jobs overseas.

            They have conceded that they should be lobbying the government for tariffs against countries that steal union jobs by offering tax credits to the multinationals, but instead they’re just making the problem worse by pressing California lawmakers to allow multinationals to push their tax bills onto California taxpayers in hopes of outbidding the worse actors (ie Vancouver & Ireland).

            If 839 and IATSE (and the raging bloggers that love them) would stand up against the multinationals that ship jobs overseas so they can cheat on their taxes instead of bullying small independent US studios, we would see a lot more union animation production jobs in LA.

            But based on their words and deeds over the past few years, the guild has clearly decided that their members who work in animation production don’t matter. This whole fight was over unionization of a couple of dozen crew members and way more people that work on this show, but the union doesn’t sweat it when jobs are shipped out of the country.

          • big bad balloon

            So much passion and info. I assume you attend the Guild Membership Meetings? Even if you aren’t a member you can attend most of them. Have you ever stepped foot inside the Union building? Have you set up an appt with the the biz rep? Or are you drawing conclusions from your vast knowledge? I don’t love the Union 100% but I’m also sick of people spouting all this yapjazz without doing any legwork. Get some facts THEN come back on here and talk some trash. Best of luck on your journey! :)

          • Kevin

            You do realize that decades ago the union went on a protracted strike to block outsourcing, and it almost broke the union because so many animation workers were willing to scab. That battle was fought and lost. Saying the Animation Guild doesn’t care about outsourcing is like saying doctors don’t care if cancer is cured — you’re blaming a convenient but incorrect target.

            And you do realize that non-union studios in California have been among the most aggressive to outsource. How is the Guild going to stop Sony or R&H or DD from outsourcing. These are billion dollar companies, with friends in high places and desperate to stay profitable, and you want to complain that the trend of globalization is simply the union’s fault? Wake up and start living in the real world.

        • chav

          Well that’s primarily because there’s more animation being produced than ever before and LA has the biggest talent base (alongside most production companies having longstanding agreements to use union talent in LA), but of course you know that already.

          Have you surveyed how many more guild members would be working right now if the union took a stand against the multinationals shipping your members’ jobs overseas in order to skip out on paying taxes and offer the artists lower wages? I think most 839 members would love to hear the numbers on that.

          How many jobs were shipped on Rick and Morty that could have been filled by LA artists?

    • john

      LA? Try almost everywhere in America. Props to Cali though, at least they have a union. Stuff that they want to go outside the US that they don’t want to pay LA for gets sent elsewhere in the states for crappier wages.

  • jonhanson

    Sucks to hear since I love both creators. Another reminder that animation is a business and the business world is brutal.

    I mean I think I can see where Mr. Roiland is coming from but if the Union did anything kind of shady they still aren’t coming close to some of the horror stories I’ve heard about studios deciding to screw over artists.

    • optimist

      The union did nothing shady. Where IS Roiland coming from? I have my ideas too. As Amid points out, they were obviously well aware of the union activities. There’s some shadiness, sure, but not on the union side. It seems pretty obvious that this guy was embarrassed and a little pissed off that his employees trumped him. I wonder-is HE a member of any union? The Producer’s Guild? Writer’s Guild? Because I kind of doubt if afforded the opportunity to join either of those (both MUCH stronger bodies with real clout and who get real residuals for their members among other benefits), he wouldn’t tell them to fuck off.

      • jonhanson

        Yeah, I feel I misspoke using the word shady. I should say the guild played hardball and I can see why that might be frustrating as producer and show runner it’s clearly the right thing to do because it produced results and artists have to take leverage where they can get it.

  • Richard

    I guess we have a little Walt running around Hollywood.

  • Mokreudalicealistek

    Yet another huge butthurt story I’m sorry to read that appeard on reddit and got censored out. Are industry people THAT overworked that they can only communicate via reddit/twitter or are we missing something here?
    I feel both good and bad about animation people here- they were forced by the situation to stand out and fight for wages to be like everywhere else and boss is butthurt kid, shitposting reddit for it? glad people got proper wages but hell, animation and gaming industry are really on the edge these days.

  • blandyblottschalk

    The headline is super misleading, but yes, I sympathize with him.

    • Jason

      He said ‘FUCK THE UNION’.
      Brew wrote “FUCK THE UNION.”
      Seems pretty straight forward to me.

  • animated discussion

    I LOVE AND CARE ABOUT MY CREW. ( but I just don’t want to pay them decent wages for their talent despite my show being an adult swim success).

    Mr Roiland is on his way to the top as we can clearly see. Who cares about animator’s families or health, the low class mongrels can afford their own obama-surance. I’d be curious to see what Roiland and Harmon’s own Time Warner benefits are. Maybe they’ll just reclassify their “workers” to something more temporary than “freelancers” next LLC/session. Fuck the union indeed. No wonder the artists were so willing to walk out on your shitty studio.

    • Rick and Morty Crew Member

      This pile of shit has “top comment” status only because it was one of the first posted, and unfortunately it’s still the first comment most people see, which is horrifying. Please sort your comments by “newest” as that’s the only way you’ll get the full spectrum of this story. I WORK FOR RICK AND MORTY, and this article, these negative comments, and this entire Justin vs the Crew mentality, is a pile of shit. Justin truthfully and earnestly appreciates us. He does. He is so grateful. He tells me constantly. And I am PROUD to be working for him, as many other artists are. Despite his Reddit comments, he is also the most personable, friendly, and open show runner I’ve ever worked with. Yeah we want Union benefits, but even without them, this studio is friggin awesome.

      • animation discussion

        Honestly it sounds like you guys are great employees.

        I was following this on the TAG blog from the outset and they had a nice article about your studio joining initially, great. Then Justin spouted off on reddit with a bunch of shit about the union and now you have this. Justin comes off as an asshole from his own actions. Seriously why the fuck didn’t you guys at least have some health insurance? 60 Hour underpaid workweeks? I’m sure Justin’s a nice guy, however his actions suggest the contrary. There are too many of these fly by night LA 2D studios that string artists up by the balls for this to be an exception to the norm. I’m glad you guys did something about it.

        • Dittbuck

          If you think an executive producer is the same thing as an HR person you are not right. Hours aren’t the department of a producer.

          • Kevin

            If you believe an animation producer has no say in their employee’s hours, you have never ever worked in any animation studio anywhere. This is the most ignorant comment on this entire thread.

      • brainhurt_and_fear

        Anonymous comments are worth as much as their authors are willing to stand behind them (i.e. nothing).

  • R&M Insider

    I fucking hate this sensationalist headline. I’m ashamed at Cartoon Brew. Are you guys TMZ?

    • AmidAmidi

      I understand and appreciate your point of view, but don’t shoot the messenger. If Roiland hadn’t written “FUCK THE UNION” on a public forum, that wouldn’t be our headline right now.

      Roiland’s rant was what spurred this followup story. It’s an obvious editorial choice to highlight the most inflammatory and revealing part of his statement.

    • Glen Dale

      Its a sensationalistic headline for sure. But an extremely accurate and well researched account of how things went down. Thank you Amid!
      I work on R&M and it was frustrating to see all of the misinformation being spread by management and their lackeys. Thankfully we have a deal and can move forward. Justin is a wonderful guy and I think he was just sounding off.

      • Bill “Danger” Robinson

        Tell us what you were paid so the next round of workers will know what to do.

        • animated discussion

          the animation guild posts wage surveys yearly, it was clearly less than what is publicly posted

          • Bill “Danger” Robinson

            ..and the correct answer is: roughly $40.00 per hour. Or about twice the average, U.S. non-farm worker, smart-enough-to-avoid-art-school wage.

          • Jason

            You hate people that can do things you can’t :(

          • Bill “Danger” Robinson

            Correct. I can’t bring myself to need or want a collective bargaining agreement.

  • Bill “Danger” Robinson

    I doubt the “Rick and Morty” folks were “overworked and underpaid.” If so, you might want to give some perspective and tell us exactly what their wages were. Congratulations on moving even more animation jobs overseas.

    • Jason

      Exactly like the non union places right? The ones that all so many jobs in the states right? God it’s embarassing to see people still saying this crap when union strength in America is at an all time low while outsourcing is at an all time high. Like seriously dude?

      Union jobs are actually the few that are staying in town you silly person.

      • chav

        Are you sure that union jobs are staying in town? That’s funny, I thought this blog’s coverage (quietly) explained that the LA crew that got unionized was quite small (a couple of dozen people) and that much if not most of the work was shipped out of the country. And yes, most of the jobs that were shipped would have been 839 positions based on what I’ve read.

        Maybe you can inform us what the guild is doing to take a stand against shows that ship most of the artist labor out of the country.

        What happened in many industries is the unions would demand better benefits and annual COLAs (3% wage increases every year for cost of living adjustments) and watch their membership dwindle as their employers would outsource jobs to avoid paying the increasingly outrageous benefits to the US workforce.

        Or take the IATSE Local One in NYC, they are stagehands (moving pianos and chairs) and most of their members make $200k+ per year but their union is now absolutely tiny and it does absolutely nothing to organize non-union stagehands who make a fraction of their wages or grow their union’s numbers. The Local One’s behavior was actually defended by the 839 in one of their newsletters a couple of years back if I recall correctly.

  • Kreamy

    Here’s how the show would have stayed like without his beloved overworked/underpaid crew ;)

    • Barrett

      God, how did I never see this until now? I had heard Rick & Morty was a take-off of BTTF (not that it isn’t kind of obvious) but I never knew about “Doc & Mharti.”

      Wow. Just wow. I’m surprised Universal didn’t try to have Justin’s balls for using the soundtrack so extensively with this. Good to see “parody exemption” still going strong!

  • skywryter

    I’ve been in the union for over 30 years and when I was young I shared many of Roiland’s views about my own union. In ’82 our union president Bud Hester did force us out on a strike we couldn’t win trying to stop outsourcing, and I resented him greatly for it. On the other hand, I’ve worked at non union studios, and as annoying, strategically stupid, and occasionally unprofessional as our union has sometimes been in the past, they’ve always tried to operate on behalf of their members. I cannot say that about most of the studios where I’ve worked. Government workers have more protection against unscrupulous management than corporate employees. Roiland just sounds like a whiner who tried to pull a fast one and got caught. A number of his statements are demonstrably untrue, and the shell company ruse is about as old, shady and unprofessional as business gets. Honestly, I’ve never met a studio head who gave a damn about his artists needs, not even the guy who trained me and who I served with unreasoning loyalty for a decade. What looks like affection is just pride of ownership. They care more about their pets.

  • Angar the Screamer

    I hope people from Titmouse LA are paying attention to this and getting inspired. especially from those Adult swim show like China, IL which is a notorious production of sorrows.

    • Ant G

      yeah… I’m reading comments on them making $40/hr….. it’s $10/hr at titmouse NY and again that is in NYC, you try finding rent with $10/hr (nevermind the food, student loans, etc. in other words, titmouse has to hire those still supported by their parents)

  • grainy

    Neither Amid nor The Guild are involved in the day to day production of an animated show… so that’s a perspective they both share and it affects how they perceive things. The artists and producers who have worked together would have a slightly different understanding.

    • optimist

      Who exactly do you think “The Guild” is, and why it exists at all? I have some BIG new for you: “The Guild” IS involved in the day to day production of an animated show. “The Guild” is me, myself and every other member-all working IN ANIMATION It’s not Steve Hulett. It’s not some Overlord. It’s just its members. That’s one fact.

      Another fact: Amid most certainly has been involved in the production of an animated show. Look him up. In addition, he knows many, many people who work in animation right now, in TV and film, as independents and for big studio entities.

      Now what do you have to say? And while you’re at it, what exactly IS your understanding? Why not say it instead of just alluding to it?

      • grainy

        To clarify- Yes you’re correct, ‘we’ are the guild. However the guild representatives are indeed not in the trenches of daily show production and neither is Amid.

        Looking it up, Amid’s credits on IMDB include one from 2003 and one from 1999… not exactly knee deep in production.

        My understanding is that the R&M production successfully transitioned to a union show, but the process was a bit bumpy and stressful. I would not paint the show runners here as villainous.

        • optimist

          My point was that Amid WAS in fact involved with production of an animated show(and from what I’d guess with the people involved, very much “knee-deep” in it). Not a hell of a lot has changed since 2003 or 1999, for that matter. There’s no statue of limitations on animation production experience. Or do you believe things in 2014 are vastly different? Examples please?
          Look, you tried to discount his POV(which btw hardly matters or is insinuated in his article as is) as if he wouldn’t know what he’s stalking about, and you’re wrong.

          As for The Guild reps, what does whether they’re knee-deep in production themselves have to do with Rick & Morty getting unionized? Are they “special” in some way in terms of animation production that Steve Hulett would never understand? Jesus, all he’s employed to do is see that the union contracts is being honored at union places, and also be involved in seeing that would-be union members get a SHOT at joining–*if that’s what they want*! Where does he fall short in “getting it”? You make no sense.

          I saw absolutely nowhere that the union painted anyone as “villainous”. One more time-only ONE person brought negative attention on this matter. The show runner who childishly posted on a public forum “Fuck the Union!”. I’ll bet he learns nothing from the attention, either.

          • grainy

            My original point that the artists/producers who make the show have a slightly different understanding of their relationship than do the guild reps and Amid (looking in from the outside) is not wrong. Your response seems a bit inappropriate, or over the top.

            Also, I believe that Mr. Roiland most certainly did appreciate the unionization effort made by the artists, contrary to the statement made by Mr. Amidi, which does indeed paint in a very negative light. Roiland probably just had a sour time communicating with the guild reps.

          • DangerMaus

            I don’t care how nice a guy is. If he is in management then he (or she) is never happy or appreciative to see unionization occur, because all of a sudden there are rules that end up being applied in what used to be his or her personal sandbox. Any manager that says he or she is happy to see the arrival of a union is lying in order to put the best face on an unwelcome development.

            His “Fuck The Union” comment is probably the most truthful thing he has said about his true feelings toward unionization of his show.

        • big bad balloon

          From my understanding the Guild has membership meetings and an open door policy for artists to come in to complain about any wrongdoings in the trenches. Not many members bother to attend the membership meetings and even fewer coming to complain in the office. The the folks at the Guild aren’t mind-readers. The artists have to stand up for themselves before the Guild can stand up for them.

  • RnMArtistE

    Rick and Morty artist, here. I’d just like to say that this entire thing is being blown out of proportion. I don’t appreciate how our showrunners are being painted as villains who treat us like garbage when that is absolutely not the case, and never has been. This is an amazing place to work, and we all love it. We simply wanted health care, which we got it. End of story. It was quickly back to business as usual after that. I know it makes a better story to pretend that this was some kind of “good vs. evil” movement, but that’s inaccurate, and speaking for us in a way that we don’t want to be spoken for.

  • AmidAmidi

    We never stated there was an adversarial relationship between Rick and Morty LLC and the crew nor did we claim anywhere that we’re speaking for the artists.

    At the meeting, why did they ask you to organize a committee/elect a representative? To remove the union’s involvement or to form a group to communicate your demands to the union?

    • Rick and Morty Crew Member

      “It’s a remarkable story—rarely does an entire TV series crew, like Rick & Morty’s, decide to pull together in mid-production to address poor labor conditions. By sticking together, they achieved their desired results. One person who didn’t appreciate the unionization effort, however, wasRick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland.”

      I read this as Justin is against the Artists, and it seems a lot of people are commenting that “Justin doesn’t care about his crew”.

      The “union scary talk” was was with the Artists only, so if you’re going to write about what transpired you should have interviewed a few artists. The committee was to be organized to represent the artists in a discussion with the producers about what was bugging us and what changes we thought would be fair. It didn’t really have anything to do with the union specifically.

      As the crew is at the heart of this issue, I still don’t understand why no one’s been interviewed.

    • read socrates

      Well as someone who actually knows the process of unionization, this would be a lovely softball case study. Nobody did anything surprising or stupid or evil in this scenario. I have experience with this, you clearly don’t. The article was good for me because i could filter out the noise of ignorance and get a picture of what happened. A real surprise would be a union and management getting together and settling things amicably without the usual cranking-to-11 / hurt feelings all around / escalation. The reason employees end up in conflict: Unions are motivated 100% to maximize dues; they are identical to corporations maximizing profit, their product is people. Unions often arrive like fluffy bunnies to capture the interest of the maximum number of employees, then change their tune once the representation vote is a success. People get ruffled because their union can go from Mr. Rogers to Vladimir Putin instantly. In the case of happy and reasonable management, some employees take the temperature of negotiations and feel like things got unnecessarily aggressive, and may even regret their vote. If they express this, their co-workers might accuse them of voting against the union and shun them (as happened in these very comments–voting is blind btw). It’s an often painful process, honed over the years by unions and corporate lawyers; understood by few, within or outside the process. I don’t like it, but i like unions, and this time things worked out okay.

  • Typical

    Thank you for over sensationalizing the shit out of our transition. this is literally the reason no one enjoys reading the terrible content on this site any more…

    And on top of that you all actively made this difficult unionization process even more abhorrent and tedious.

    • AmidAmidi

      Your boss decided to tell the people who are giving you benefits to go fuck themselves. If Justin had come out and said, “This is great and I’m happy for my artists,” this would be a very different story right now. The person who threw an online tantrum and sensationalized the story was Roiland; we just reported it.

      • Rick and Morty Crew Member

        The article could have been titled “Controversy at Rick and Morty after going Union”. There is just so much more to this whole story than Justin’s Reddit tantrum.

    • Jason

      Yeah man, having health benefits is the worst! Screw the Guild.
      *high five*

      • Rick and Morty Crew Member

        We had to be secretive towards the show runners, our good and long time friends, because the union didn’t want them to have an upper hand in the negotiation process. They told us one thing, and the Union told us another. Don’t be naive. Health benefits are incredible, but putting your friends through hell is not.

        • optimist

          “Putting them through hell”? Are you kidding? Somehow I think they’ll live.

          Besides, you agreed to stay out/walk didn’t YOU? For a good reason it seems. Or did you WANT them to “have the upper hand”? Again, how exactly were they put through hell so you could go union? They had to lose some weekend time to negotiate? Wow. It really doesn’t sound that horrible.
          And yea, health benefits are incredible. It’s well worth the dues. Welcome to the #839. Now get back to work!

          • Rick and Morty Crew Member

            “Lose some weekend time”?

            …The R&M negotiations were some of the shortest ON RECORD because we forced their hand.They had a weekend to achieve what most studios have over a week to do, because we had threatened to walk out the Monday following that weekend. What do you know about negotiating with unions? You think it takes a few hours out of the day? From what I was hearing, it wasn’t pretty. They were blindsided, unprepared, as well as extremely short on time. So yes, they lived, but it was an extremely difficult weekend for them, especially in the middle of an already insanely busy show.

            We walked, but we were EXTREMELY reluctant to. Many of us still aren’t sure if it was the right thing to do. Personally, I think everything would have been fine if we had given R&M LLC more time to work through negotiations (which include Turner and Adult Swim), as well as more of a heads up prior, but we’re new to this and the Union convinced us that walking the best thing.

            Going Unions is about health benefits, but this article is about slandering Justin, making him look like an asshole. He’s not. I know the guy. He’s nicer than most people I know. I’m sure he’s even nicer than you :)

          • WTF

            Speak for yourself.
            or… if it upsets you so much, feel free to voluntarily OPT OUT of the union. And your management buddies who didn’t provide for you before will just jump to do so now. Right?

          • menehune

            This article isn’t about slandering Justin at all. He made a fool of himSELF with his “Fuck the Union” public statement(which clearly he knew on some level as he deleted the thread later). The rest is on the record re: the crew going union. I don’t know if he’s a nice guy or an outrageous asshole, but that was a douche move to post that, so I can at least say he lacks some judgement.

            And if the negotiations were the shortest on record, whose doing was that? It seems very very likely from the evidence that “Rick & Morty LLC” was obfusticating and stalling. They KNEW that a union negotiation was coming. They did their best to befuddle and dodge it and they got caught flatfooted. THIS is in all likelihood why the Boss was so pissed off as to spew profanities after the fact on Reddit.

            Thank goodness it’s all moot now and you’re union, finally. I’m sure he’s cheering.

    • VERY Typical

      Speak for yourself. I love the content on here. Daily. I find it hard to believe none of the artists have a blog. Why aren’t they voicing their opinions on there? Or someplace else? Even if every crew member wrote a paragraph and posted it on a new blog somewhere or something. Give us the REAL story. We’ll be waiting…

  • Hey Now

    If the “Unions are scary” meeting went down the way this article states, and the higher-ups tried to downplay the quality of the Guild’s heath plan, I can firmly attest to the contrary, being a TAG member myself. We often get screwed over in studio contract negotiations, but the one big benefit of the Guild is an excellent, excellent heath plan.

  • Jason

    Just like forming a shell studio to avoid benefits was a good way to go too right?

    • Gorro

      I love how you’ve been responding to practically every post in this comments and are acting more mad out of principle despite the fact that every crew member who has been speaking up here is saying that it’s all good and there is no hostility between them and Roiland.

      Oh wait, you even responded to them and say “It’s not about you”.


  • Behind the other scenes

    Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have a track record for abusing talent in a way that is not conspicuous. It is masked behind the idea of a “crew” of creative people “helping” each other to be “creative” in the cult-like group known as Channel 101. Started by Dan it is a way for him to procure talent. And it is very much like a pyramid scheme and a mini Hollywood where the “scratch my back and I’ll maybe scratch yours” mentality guides the hierarchy. The hierarchy where Dan and Justin reside on top. It is favors done for free work under the pretense of a collaborative effort. It is no surprise that some Channel 101 Kool aid drinkers and members are working on R&M right now. It’s the oldest trick in the book, to build up your status and then surround yourself with sycophants and promise them a fake mentorship I’m exchange for their free work. This cult helps each other get jobs on whatever project one of the members manages to get, be it at a network for for a 101 “show” that will be featured at their monthly screenings. Either way Dan has a giant access to talent where he uses his celebrity to suck them into his projects. Obviously they benefit from unregulated working hours because they can play game where it’s about proving loyalty by working hard. And those that don’t stay late aren’t really behind them. Of course they would hate that their employees are no longer under their spell. Dan and Justin are after their own personal success and time in the spotlight and they don’t care about their crews.

    • DanO

      I’m a storyboard artist on Rick&Morty(seasons 1&2). Your post the most ridiculous and idiotic take on this subject. I’ve worked with Dan and Justin for 10 years on a host of different projects and I have never done a single shred of work for Channel 101. You spent the time writing an accusation a paragraph long and I’m living proof that its a lie.
      What happened with the union at R&M is quite simply the natural progression for any primetime animated show in Los Angeles. Its never an easy process. We’re a happy family again pouring ourselves into making the best show we can.
      Making observations on these kind of growing pains for a company and their crew is fine. You’re veering into character assassination.
      Easy to do behind your keyboard huh?

      • DangerMaus

        The “family” couldn’t have been so happy if members of it decided that they needed the union. Also, I kind of doubt that the family will ever again be “one big happy” re post unionization. But that is just the cynic in me coming out.

  • AnotherRMEmploy

    Just thought I would be another +1 from someone who actually works on the show. Everything has been covered in previous comments by my fellow co-workers. This article blows things out of proportion. I would hope that Mr. Amidi would redeem himself by conducting interviews with the crew to really understand the nature of this deal as opposed to creating a false hypothesis synthesized from public records. This deal was about the crew. Maybe looking to the crew for answers instead of the ill-informed internet would shine a light on what is really happened.

  • AnotherRMworker

    While that may be the case, shouldn’t we consider what the artist are saying instead of making false or bloated assumptions? You are quick to say that the message of the article is that it’s a victory for the people, but the article neglects to provide a point of view from the artist of the crew who are involved in this.

    • insert name here

      Even if they have good intentions, bosses have a material interest to prevent workers from having independent means with which to enhance their position and put leverage on a productive enterprise. The union and the workers had a right to be suspicious of their bosses intentions and move quickly, aggressively, and even do it behind the company’s back. When workers organize, it doesn’t mean they don’t like their employer or their work, its just recognizing the reality of the situation and seeking protection and better compensation. Bearing this in mind, Justin Roiland just looks foolish, reducing it to “BUT I LUV MUH CREW WHY U MAD?” So I’d say this article is pretty fair to the situation overall.

  • Rick and Morty Crew Member

    No. The bigger picture is not about fighting, and that’s what the crew is trying to illuminate. We fought against nothing. Many of us wouldn’t have gone through with this process if we didn’t think it was also in the best interest of Dan and Justin, and R&M as a whole.

    • Jason

      Them attempting to set up a shell company kinda wrecks that moment you’re trying to have.

      • Rick and Morty Crew Member

        You have no clue why they separated from Starburns, which makes it a wonder why you post anything at all

        • Jason

          Why did they separate?

      • Picassosaurus

        Why do uninformed people like you want so badly to throw in your two cents no matter what? You want to be part of the conversation but you don’t even know the real story. You’re being told you’re wrong by one of the “victims” and are still stubborn to assert your ignorance. Just accept that you are wrong and move on. You want to badger people for all the answers? Too bad, you don’t work there, you are the public and it is none of your business.

        • fellow animation worker

          It is our business. We work in your business. When a group of employees agrees to work for sub-standard wages and NO BENEFITS, it affects everyone who works in your (OUR) industry. You empower employers when you agree to not be adequately compensated. I know that people need jobs, but you really allowed them to take advantage of a employers market.

    • Jason

      Tell the folks being forced to work in Vancouver that.

  • Rick and Morty Crew Member

    The article focus’s on Justin’s rant, but includes information which the artists would dispute. Don’t you think they should weigh in on the “secret meeting” which the Guild, nor Amid were party to? or the “unfair working conditions” which the artists supposedly were working under? How do people not see this.

    • YetAnotherR&MCrewMember

      A lot of the artists have differing views on the organization. A small number were against it – and have left comments in here suggesting that they were happy with the status quo. One thing not in dispute:the vote was overwhelmingly in favor to schedule a work action.
      The vote represents the majority sentiment. Thats the way it works. To the crew members that are miffed that the crew was being portrayed as unhappy – all I can say is that I’m sorry the vote didn’t go your way.

      • optimist

        As someone who’s commented plenty, I just want to say thanks for weighing in. My first reaction, and it’s still how I feel, was that I was very impressed that a relatively small crew had the commitment to take the action you did, stand your ground, and go union. It took guts and I applaud you. I don’t think you’ll be sorry for a second, and I wish all of you guys the best with the show. I had that reaction after reading the initial story on the Union blog, btw. The only really negative connotations imho came about due to the above Reddit posting, which is a pity-for Roiland.

  • AnotherRMworker

    By not representing the artist point of view, the article uses the words of the union reps to fill in. The artist suffer because they are painted as “overworked and underpaid”, which some artist would argue was not the case. Honestly, just read any of the comments posted on the article from my co-workers. THAT’S is what is missing.

    • mick

      Who, if not the majority said ‘we are over worked and under paid’? they enlisted the help of the union. They established a better working situation… that’s it, the end. Why do we have to hear from individual employees

      ‘Well I was in the staff kitchen eating oatmeal that morning when in came Dave, Dave didn’t look happy which I couldn’t understand because I was feeling ok…. blah blah blah’ … Who cares? All this talk of ‘he’s a cool guy’ ‘I love this one’ ‘they love and respect this one’ ‘we’re all great pals’ etc

      What transpired was – staff unhappy- they take action- staff happy- hurray- the end

  • mermaidshells

    I see this so often in studios today, and it’s just heartbreaking. Fair pay and benefits for skilled hard work shouldn’t be a treated like a ridiculous notion because we’re artists.

  • Hello Dave

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “It is OK to post with a nickname or alias, but your email address (which we will NEVER share publicly), must be a real, permanent email address. Comments with fake or non-permanent emails will be deleted.”]

  • Warn A Brother

    I’ve worked animation in LA for 7 years, 3 of which have been union. The union health plan, if you take the PPO, is an excellent plan. And, with a four year degree and seven years of industry experience, I command 40+ an hour no apologies given. I started out at 600 a week, 50 hour week, no overtime, no healthcare, and had to bring in my own pc and wacom tablet. I’ve been through three pay crisis’s, one of which went four months, and quitting guaranteed the project would sink and I’d never get paid up. I’d say I’ve been through some times.

    I would also say that if they were making anywhere near union wage before this started, they wouldn’t have gotten riled up enough to contact the union. It’s VERY scary and many are worried about losing their jobs over it. Steady animation gigs don’t just fall from the sky for most of us. It takes A LOT to get a crew to unify and contact the guild. Now that it’s reached resolution, exhaust has likely set in, and they have to get back to work. “Lets all just move on” is likely going through everyone’s mind right now.

    Much love to yall artists working the show. Get paid and be healthy!

    • AmidAmidi

      Warn A Brother – Thank you for sharing your personal experiences and adding more perspective to the discussion.

  • agreenster

    I LOVE Rick and Morty! It’s by far my favorite animated series of all time. I hope the crew is being honest when they say Justin Roiland has gotten a bad rap from this mess, and that he’s actually a great show runner, and that you all are on good terms now. I’d hate to think such an inspirational show has unhappy workers behind the scenes. You all deserve to be taken care of. Can’t wait to see Season 2. Also I’d love a tour of your studio :) I drive by it every day.

  • DangerMaus

    That just sounds like another way of saying low wages and no health benefits for new guild members on low budget shows. I mean, the employer on this show didn’t offer a health plan so what makes you think employers on other shows would?

  • Dang

    Because we live in a brainwashed culture where ordinary workers wanting tbeir fair share of the pie in the form of living wages and benefits are greedy fucks while a person who makes 700 times the wage of the lowest paid worker is just “being paid what he or she is worth”.

  • Jon

    You know who else is “unprofessional,” “not needed,” “desperate,” and “indecent? People who don’t pay their employees well…

  • Mister Twister

    I wonder, what the INTERNET can really change. I mean, we can all write comments, but comments solve little. To get better working conditions, we have to fight for them, and not with comments.

  • big bad balloon

    So you’re on HIS blog and you want HIM to get in touch with YOU. Please rethink.

    Just send him your side of the story, minus the temper tantrum, and if it isn’t full of a 3-year old’s demeanor maybe he’ll post it up.

    Your tone makes if difficult to take you seriously.

  • Jason

    That’s adorable. I guess since Disney is unionized, they’re substandard too. Maybe they know something you don’t?

  • Go Team!!!

  • When some a-hole tells you to make the deadline “or you’ll never work in this town again” and there are bills to pay, you take the 60+ hours, possibly a working sleep-over on the chin. Too many a-holes tell you “you’re just paying your dues because we’ve all done it”, so this should tell you how institutionalized this mentality is.

    No matter how much Mr. Roiland appreciates his crew, his job is keep to expenses down and deliver a product on time. And considering today’s ridiculous delivery schedules (too many “live action” show runners?), that means as many bodies as the square footage in the studio allows, working for as little as you can get away with.

    It’s simple math to the bottom line. Indentured slavery? Sure as shit feels like it at the start/end of the week.

  • Where some poor sap is paid 950 a week to work 50+ hours. Or has a footage quota so high (50secondsperweek) it’ll give you a nose bleed.

  • You’ve heard of the wage fixing scandal, right? That mentality runs deep, my friend.

  • barrett

    If Justin wants to spout off about being blindsided, he should have taken it up with the Line Producers and whoever else on the team was responsible for managing those mundanities like “pay” and “hours required per employee.” If he was truly focused on the creative side of things and unaware of any discontent brewing in regard to working conditions, then it is between him and “management” not him and the workers and certainly not him and the union. Unions are not sneaky parasites, looking for hosts to infect. The union would never have been voted for if working conditions at the studio were seen as within acceptable range for the pay and hours the artists were working.

  • Barrett

    Most animation studios (as well as game studios and other tech startups in need of visual artists) pay salaried wages rather than hourly, so they can offer what looks like a pretty good pay rate for a 40-or-so per hour week, but when you end up working 60-70 hours per week the pay sucks.

    If these were hourly jobs, and time-and-a-half kicked in at the 41st hour, the higher pay rate wouldn’t be as important because people being overworked would be paid accordingly for their over-work.

  • what are the basic rights?

  • mick

    His second great sin is leaping on ‘social media’ and pulling his own pants down. They should rename twitter et al ‘Blurt and apology generators’