UPDATED with ITV Studios statement: The Writers Guild of America, East has been trying to get a contract with ITV Studios for nearly five years. It still doesn’t have one, but is getting its day in court. A federal trial has been scheduled for January 11 on a complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board against the U.S.-based non-fiction production arm of the UK giant.
The complaint follows the NLRB’s investigation of charges brought by the WGAE, alleging that early this year ITV implemented a health insurance plan over the objections of the guild which is the collective bargaining representative of ITV’s writer-producers. ITV’s shows include NBC variety series Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris, A&E’s The First 48 and TLC’s Four Weddings.
The NLRB determined that ITV violated its duty to bargain in good faith with the WGAE, unlawfully implemented the health plan and illegally dropped a monthly stipend the company had been paying to the union-represented employees. ITV’s back pay liability could exceed $100K, the guild said today.
“ITV has decided to spend an unfathomable amount of money on lawyers and a trial rather than simply honoring its obligation to bargain in good faith and reach an agreement with the WGAE,” said executive director Lowell Peterson.
“We simply can’t agree to a settlement which puts the healthcare of our people in jeopardy,” an ITV spokesperson said in a statement. “We are confident that we acted lawfully in offering health insurance to our employees and strongly refute the false claims by the WGAE that we have not been bargaining in good faith,” the statement continues. “The union is well aware that we have been negotiating the terms of a collective bargaining agreement for a considerable period of time, and we have come to broad agreement on a wide range of topics such as paid time off including holidays and vacation, wage minimums, as well as grievance and arbitration procedures.”
Last month, the WGAE won an NLRB-sanctioned election to unionize ITV-owned Leftfield Entertainment, which makes Pawn Stars and The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, among many others. The union still has to negotiate a contract with Leftfield amid claims from the company that the guild’s organizing campaign was based on “lies” and “unrealistic promises.”