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Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. Animation production staff file to unionize

The effort was sparked by Warner Bros. recent reorganization

Harley Quinn stands on a bar, bat in one hand, full beer stein in another, in season 2 of Harley Quinn. Image: Warner Bros. Animation
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Production staff — 66 employees from Warner Bros. Animation and 22 from Cartoon Network — filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations board yesterday. The group is seeking Warner Bros.’ voluntary recognition of the union as a part of the Animation Guild.

The effort follows a year of upheaval at Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network, in which both teams saw a large round of layoffs before they were brought under the same division. Simultaneously, Warner Bros. Discovery pulled a huge swath of its streaming animation from HBO Max, often without notice to creators.

If Warner Bros. Discovery recognizes the union, either voluntarily or by forcing the National Labor Relations board to intercede, the WBA/Cartoon Network group would become one of a number of animation shops — including Rick and Morty, The Simpsons, and Family Guy — currently bargaining for their first union contract with the Animation Guild.

“Although many might not think it, production is a specialized skill; we might not be artists or writers, but what we bring to the table goes beyond traditional creativity and gets content on the air,” Hannah Ferenc, a production manager at WBA, said in the organization’s news release. “Having lived through the existing state of the animation industry for the past seven years, I want to make sure that not only our current workers, but all those who choose to join us in the future, can feel secure in following their passion by earning livable wages and being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The 88 employees in the group hold roles like production manager, IT technician, and design production coordinator, and collectively they have worked on shows like Harley Quinn, Teen Titans Go!, Craig of the Creek, and the upcoming Batman: The Caped Crusader and Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake.

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