UK-Based “Reality” TV Production Company Exploits Connecticut Tax Credit

UK-Based “Reality” TV Production Company Exploits Connecticut Tax Credit

Stamford, CT (February 9, 2018) – Leftfield Pictures, the nonfiction/“reality” television production company behind the massive hit shows Pawn Stars and Counting Cars, recently rented space in Stamford for one reason: to exploit the massive tax credits offered by the State of Connecticut.

In 2015, employees at Leftfield overwhelming voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO, a labor union representing a critical mass of writer-producers working in nonfiction/“reality” television. The company, which has operated in New York for many years without any tax breaks, has actively fought its employees’ struggle to negotiate collective bargaining agreements that would provide affordable health benefits, meaningful pay minimums, basic union protections, and reasonable work schedules.

Not satisfied with the huge profits it reaps from the work done by its overworked and underpaid employees, the company now expects Connecticut taxpayers to hand over hundreds of thousands – or perhaps millions – of dollars to boost the bottom line of its parent company, the London-based media corporation ITV. The National Labor Relations Board has pursued multiple unfair labor practice claims against ITV’s U.S. operations.

ITV/Leftfield makes shows for A&E – which itself hauled in more than $11 million in 2016 alone from the same Connecticut tax credit.

What’s more, ITV stands to reap potentially millions more in tax goodies because Congress recently slashed the corporate tax rate. The company refuses to say whether it will simply repatriate that windfall to corporate headquarters in the UK.

“Leftfield has now rented space in Stamford, Connecticut, and employees are shuttling back and forth from New York. Why? So the company can take advantage of Connecticut’s film production tax credit,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “In other words, the British media giant is now asking Connecticut taxpayers for massive subsidies even as the company battles its employees’ union and resists reaching agreement on standard contract terms.  Is this what the Connecticut tax credit was intended to do?  Is this an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars at a time of fiscal crisis in the state?”

Lori Pelletier, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, said, “The State of Connecticut faces real fiscal challenges, and Connecticut taxpayers deserve to know that their tax dollars are spent effectively and fairly.  It is just not acceptable for taxpayer money to subsidize multinational corporations that refuse to respect their employees’ rights.  ITV/Leftfield is part of a major multinational corporation with a record of committing unfair labor practices and of thwarting its employees’ right to a collective voice on the job; bad actors like Leftfield should not be allowed to soak Connecticut’s taxpayers.”

Stacey Zimmerman, Associate Director of SEIU – CT State Council, said, “If Connecticut is going to use tax money, it should be for good jobs where people have basic protections, the kinds of protections our union’s members have won.  ITV/Leftfield doesn’t want its employees to have a collective voice on the job, which is the only way to make sure the jobs are good, to make sure the employees can build sustainable careers.”

Julie Kushner, Director of UAW Region 9A, noted, “The State of Connecticut has to make every tax dollar count. Giving away taxpayers’ money to a multinational corporation that doesn’t respect its employees’ rights is just plain wrong. Shame on ITV/Leftfield for fighting against its employees and doing it on the state dime.”

Juan Hernandez, District Leader of 32BJ SEIU Connecticut, said, “Connecticut cannot support taxpayer subsidies for a company that battles its own employees.  If ITV/Leftfield wants to operate in Connecticut, they must honor its employees’ rights and agree to a basic contract with its employees’ union.”

Nina Sherwood, a member of Stamford’s Board of Representatives, said, “ITV/Leftfield is a huge corporation and I’m concerned that their employees, who have unionized, are not being heard. As an elected representative in Stamford I would like to know why Leftfield has not come to the table to negotiate and finalize a contract. We all benefit from a strong labor force, even management and I expect Leftfield to do what’s right by those they employ.  Leftfield is seeking to get a large monetary incentive for moving to Connecticut so they really have no excuse for this behavior.

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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