WGA Uses Ads To Get A Rise Out Of Nick
In an aggressive attempt to discredit Nickelodeon, the Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw) has launched an advertising campaign requesting Nickelodeon Animation Studios adhere to the standards of the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) Code of Business Practices or the Fair Labor Association (FLA) Workplace Code of Conduct. The request is in reference to the licensing and manufacturing of toys and other merchandise based on two Nickelodeon animated characters SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS and JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS. However, a statement issued by the WGAw makes it seem as though the guild is using this latest information as another point of leverage in the ongoing fight with Nick for collective bargaining representation for its animation writers. In a press release provided by the WGAw, president Victoria Riskin said: "Nickelodeon has built its global success based on the premise that it is a network that cares about children. Neither Nickelodeon nor its licensee JAKKS Pacific of Malibu has responded to the guild's request to sign the ICTI or FLA codes of conduct which prohibit forced labor, child labor and require respect for the rights of employees to be represented by a union. According to JAKKS Pacifics Annual Report, it contract[s] the manufacture of most of [its] products to unaffiliated manufacturers located in China. We are very concerned that this is one more example of the company refusing to respect basic standards of fair treatment for employees. During the upcoming holidays, Nickelodeon will release JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS in movie theaters and launch an advertising campaign for toys, clothing and other merchandise. We sincerely hope Nickelodeon will honor the spirit of the season by signing the codes of conduct, requiring their licensees to do the same and by coming to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract for the benefit of Nickelodeon writers and their children." The guild has been engaged in a dispute with Nickelodeon Animation Studios since the writers of six shows (SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS, HEY ARNOLD!, FAIRLY ODD PARENTS, CONSTANT PAYNE and INVADER ZIM) requested collective bargaining representation by the WGAw. So far, a secret ballot that went in favor of WGAw representation has gone unnoticed by Nickelodeon management. In addition, the WGAw claims that Nickelodeon also shifted the writers on JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS off the Nickelodeon payroll, eliminating health insurance coverage for the writers' children, after they requested union representation. In response to the WGAws allegations, Nickelodeon issued the following statement: "The WGAw's ad and press release is an outrageous attack on the integrity of Nickelodeon and its licensee partners. It is another in a series of transparent efforts by the WGAw to subvert the authority of the National Labor Relations Board, which has been reviewing the validity of the WGAw's petition for an election at our animation studio. More importantly, the ad is false and misleading. Nickelodeon, in its contracts with licensees who manufacture its toys and products, requires full compliance with all domestic and foreign labor laws. In fact the licensees targeted by the WGAw have agreed to codes of conduct consistent with those of the International Council of Toy Industries or the Fair Labor Association. Additionally, writers for the JIMMY NEUTRON TV series are employed by DNA Productions, not Nickelodeon, and DNA has stated that none of these writers has ever been denied or lost health insurance. The fact that the WGAw would stoop to tactics under the guise of protecting kids is unfathomable. To suggest that Nickelodeon needs pressure to do the right thing for kids is frankly offensive."