Nonfiction Writer-Producers Escalate Fight Over Industry’s Low Standards After Leftfield Blames Networks For Poverty-Level Pay Rates For Writer-Producers
NEW YORK, NY (November 15, 2016) – In its ongoing negotiations with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), Leftfield Entertainment, the largest “reality”/nonfiction production company on the East Coast, laid blame squarely on television networks for controlling the economics of making nonfiction shows and for making it necessary to propose poverty-level pay rates for Leftfield’s writer-producers.
In response to Leftfield’s argument, over one hundred “reality”/nonfiction writer-producers picketed A&E headquarters in Manhattan. A&E, which also controls channels like History and FYI, is Leftfield’s biggest network customer, airing well-performing shows like PAWN STARS, TINY HOUSE and COUNTING CARS.
Writer-producers are demanding to know if A&E, as Leftfield asserts, is the cause of race-to-the-bottom labor conditions, including poverty-level pay proposals.
The Guild also delivered an industry-wide petition, signed by nearly 900 nonfiction television writer-producers, to A&E that calls on the network to commit to working with production companies with fair minimum pay rates, safety and scheduling standards, paid time off and healthcare benefits. Read the full petition here.
“Nonfiction production companies often say their hands are tied by their network contracts, which is why we feel it is important that the networks know what we’re demanding,” said David Van Taylor, a veteran nonfiction writer-producer. “We’re not asking for the moon—just for reasonable working conditions and fair pay.”
“Leftfield’s writer-producers have mobilized and rolled up their sleeves to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement after they voted overwhelming for WGAE representation last year,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “What Leftfield tells us at the bargaining table is that cable network budgets force the company to propose poverty-level pay rates – literally less than $15/hour in many cases. This is less than the new minimum wage for fast food workers in New York. In an industry that’s earning supersized profits, writer-producers should be able to build sustainable careers and not struggle to make ends meet.”
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.