EXCLUSIVE: Three days after the NBCUniversal-owned cable network took direct control of Season 4 of Shahs of Sunset and canned the striking postproduction staff, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has made a big move of its own. Representing the Motion Picture Editors Guild, the union today filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against Bravo with the National Labor Relations Board.
“Within the past six months the Employer has violated the Act by dismissing all editors on the show Shahs of Sunset for engaging in protected concerted activities including trying to gain union representation,” says the filing from IATSE Local 700 to the LRB today. “Bravo further violated the Act by dismissing Ryan Seacrest Productions and Berne Productions , Inc., as joint employers along with Bravo, from producing the aforesaid show to intimidate and threaten the employees on the show because they are trying to organize . By the aforesaid actions the Employer has threatened, intimidated and coerced employees all in violation of their rights protected by Section 7 of the Act.”
This is a big escalation in what has become an unscripted standoff with NBCU and Bravo seemingly determined not to give any ground to the unionization effort. The LRB charges also come as NBCU corporate bosses Comcast are trying to get regulatory approval for their multi-billion dollar merger with Time Warner Cable – a proposal that has already met its fair share of pushback.
With work still to be done on the first two episodes, the 16-members of the Shahs post crew went on strike on September 10 in search of a union contract. The move came two days after Bravo announced October 13 as the debut date of the Shahs Season 4 and one day after the Guild sent RSP subsidiary Berne Productions Inc. a letter requesting immediate negotiations. The same day as the strike started, RSP said they had “every intention of engaging in a discussion as soon as possible. Similar to the IATSE Local 700’s successful Survivor labor action of last month, the Shahs postproduction team were primarily been seeking health and pension benefits
One day later after the strike began, Bravo pulled the October 13 debut date. “The new airdate has yet to be determined,” said the cable network on September 11. Despite RSP’s willingness to enter talks, no one sat down at the table as it became clear that NBCU and Bravo were really running the show figuratively. On September 26 who was in charge became literal. “Bravo is assuming control of production of Season 4 of Shahs of Sunset from Ryan Seacrest Productions,” said the cabler. Following a statement from RSP, who will keep a EP credit, part of Bravo’s new regime was to get rid of the strikers to get the show back on track.
“If Bravo or Ryan Seacrest thinks that their problems go away because they announce that our editors have been fired, they’re sorely mistaken,” said Editors Guild president Alan Heim today “This is no longer just a fight about whether this crew gets health and retirement benefits; it’s an unabashed attack on the right to organize . We will fight back and we will win. No self-respecting editor is going to cut this show after this show cut their colleagues.”