The controversy over treatment of artists who worked on the Sony hit Sausage Party, which erupted in the comments section of our interview with the film’s directors, and spread like wildfire across the news media, has taken a new turn.
Vancouver-based union Local Unifor 2000, which represents roughly 800 media workers, filed a third-party complaint last Friday with Canada’s Employment Standards Branch against Sausage Party animation producer Nitrogen Studios Canada over allegations that the company failed to pay animators overtime while working on the film.
“We are aware of serious allegations that Nitrogen did not pay some of its animators overtime, and we’ve formally asked the Employment Standards Branch to investigate,” said Jennifer Moreau, vice-president of Unifor Local 2000, in a press statement.
“Many of these animators are too scared to come forward—that’s why we’ve filed the third party complaint,” Moreau further said. “They are afraid they will be blacklisted and denied future employment in what’s essentially a small, tight-knit community, where they go from contract to contract. Workers tell us the companies use loopholes, classifying their work as high tech or contract work, to get around basic employment standards.”
Currently, no animation studio in Vancouver is represented by a union, and none of the thousands of artists working in Vancouver’s animation, vfx, and video game sectors enjoy basic worker protections offered by unions.
The vfx branch of BECTU, the U.K.’s media and entertainment trade union, which is attempting to unionize British vfx artists, has also shown its support for Sausage Party artists, and on Monday, published an open letter to Nitrogen artists and management, encouraging vfx and animation artists around the globe to continue efforts towards unionization.
Cartoon Brew’s interview with the Sausage Party directors, which asked Nitrogen Studios owner Greg Tiernan about how he was able to produce the film on such a low budget, and the subsequent comments from artists who worked on the film, became the basis for dozens of articles in major publications, including:
- LA Times
- The Globe and Mail
- The Washington Post
- The Sydney Morning Herald
- The Hollywood Reporter
Cartoon Brew is currently conducting its own investigation into the situation. If you are an artist who worked on Sausage Party and can speak to one of our writers, either on or off the record, please contact us.