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National Labor Relations Board To Oversee Vote By Writer-Producers At Original Media, Leading Nonfiction Television Production Company
NEW YORK, NY (JUNE 9, 2014) – The writer-producers employed by New York nonfiction TV production company Original Media will vote whether to be represented by the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Ballots will be counted the second week of July.
Original Media produces popular shows such as Ink Master, BBQ Pitmasters, American Grilled, Dual Survival and Comic Book Men.
The WGAE has been actively organizing writer-producers in nonfiction television since 2009. Nonfiction television has boomed in recent years by creating low-cost, highly profitable programming that relies on low wages, smaller crews and longer work schedules by freelance employees with no health care. Well over one thousand skilled creative professionals work in this field in the New York area alone. The WGAE has been working with writer-producers and production companies to help define and enforce industry-wide standards that can allow for these professionals to build long-term, stable and secure careers.
An industry-wide committee of writer-producers has penned a letter to Original employees putting the NLRB vote in context (Full letter here):
This isn’t about bad companies that deserve unions and good companies that don’t – it’s about an industry that is untenable for the freelancers that make it work, and about those freelancers having a say in the direction of their own professional lives by negotiating together with the huge media conglomerates that currently call the shots. It’s about freelancers from every company working together to share best practices and big ideas about how this industry could work better for them, fixing what doesn’t work and solidifying what does.
The WGAE has negotiated collective bargaining agreements with three nonfiction television production companies, is at the bargaining table with a fourth company, and is awaiting the outcome of an NLRB appeal at a fifth. In November 2013 the union issued a white paper describing the difficult working conditions in this part of the industry titled, “The Real Cost of Reality TV: How the Nonfiction TV Industry Steals Tens of Millions of Dollars from New York Taxpayers”.
“There has been tremendous growth and consolidation in the nonfiction television industry in the last year – including the recent $360 million plus purchase of Leftfield Entertainment by ITV Studios,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “With such economic concentration and leverage, writer-producers are coming to the conclusion that they need a powerful voice of their own.”
ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org.
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