Original Media Inks Sweeping Settlement of Unfair Labor Practice Case
NEW YORK, NY (October 5, 2015) – Original Media, owned by the multinational corporation Endemol/Shine, has entered a sweeping settlement agreement with the National Labor Relations Board, whose investigation determined that the company violated federal labor law by failing to negotiate in good faith with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).
Last year, writer-producers at Original voted overwhelmingly to be represented by the WGAE and negotiations began shortly after the election. A few months into negotiations, Original announced that, despite the fact it had failed to reach agreement on a contract with the union, it would unilaterally implement a health insurance plan. Original also failed to provide the WGAE with basic information about the plan, which turned out to have very high deductibles despite the huge premiums employees would be required to pay. The Guild filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, alleging that the company breached its duty to bargain in good faith. The NLRB conducted a thorough investigation and agreed that the company’s actions violated federal labor law.
“One of the central principles of collective bargaining is that the parties have to reach agreement on all issues before the employer can implement anything,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “That is the give and take of bargaining, and it enables the employees to leverage their collective strength to achieve their goals. At Original, people wanted to negotiate a decent health plan with reasonable deductibles and affordable premiums, and the company slammed that door shut. The NLRB’s ruling illustrates Original’s utter disregard for its employees’ decision to join with the WGAE and obtain affordable health benefits, minimum weekly rates, paid time off and other basic union protections. We are gratified that the NLRB found Original’s disgraceful conduct to be unlawful.”
Peterson continued, “As recently as last week, Original put out a statement saying they want to address these issues at the bargaining table with the WGAE. This NLRB ruling is concrete proof that Original is not negotiating in good faith. The only acceptable next step is for Original to stop playing games and finalize the agreement that addresses its employees’ concerns.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Original must notify unit employees that it will not
- select and implement its own health insurance plan without providing the Union with notice and opportunity to bargain over this decision and its effects;
- bypass the Union by dealing directly with bargaining unit employees;
- refuse to furnish the Union with information that is relevant and necessary to its role as the exclusive bargaining representative of unit employees;
- make changes in wages, hours and working conditions without reaching an overall good faith impasse in bargaining for a collective bargaining agreement;
- in any like or related manner interfere with its employees’ rights under federal labor law.
The settlement gives the WGAE the right to demand that Original rescind its unlawfully-implement health insurance plan.
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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