New York – Writers Guild of America East protested outside the New York offices of ITV Studios Friday demanding that the company, which produces highly successful scripted reality television programming, give its American employees the same rights as their unionized British counterparts. WGAE was joined in the action by members of the Writers Guild of Great Britain, Irish Writers Guild, Scriptwriters Guild of Israel, Societe des auteurs de radio, television et cinema (SARTEC) – the Quebec guild – Writers Guild of America, West, La Guilde (French Writers Guild), Australian Writers Guild and New Zealand Writers Guild.
In December 2010 the National Labor Relations Board conducted an election, in which ITV employees voted for the WGAE as their representative. ITV refuses to honor this vote. Yesterday the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds passed a resolution calling upon ITV Studios and its U.S. subsidiary to honor the results of the election and to and recognize the WGAE and to negotiate in good faith.
“We are here today for a simple reason,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of WGAE. “And that is to demand that ITV give its employees in New York the same rights enjoyed by its employees in Britain. ITV has tried legal maneuver after legal maneuver to avoid bargaining with the WGAE; all of those maneuvers have failed. The time for legal games is over. Come to table and start negotiating.”
Robert Taylor, Chair of Writers Guild of Great Britain said, “We bargain collectively with ITV Studios in Britain, and we are shocked that the company is using shareholder money to fight the Writers Guild in the US. We believe the employees in the US should have the same rights as our members.”
ITV Studios has a fast growing operation in the U.S. that produces non-fiction (aka scripted reality shows) programs for basic cable television, including hit shows The First 48 and Four Weddings. For almost a year, ITV has refused to recognize a vote by their U.S. employees to allow the WGAE to represent them in contract negotiations, despite certification of the vote by the National Labor Relations Board.
The WGAE Non-Fiction Writers and Producers United campaign is an effort by hundreds of creative professionals in non-fiction TV to win the benefits, pay and respect they deserve. In the last year, the WGAE has won union elections at four major production companies to begin the collective bargaining process. The campaign is also actively working to see that labor law is followed, and overtime is paid.
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 their members; conduct programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to writers; and present writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit http://www.wgaeast.org.