The Writers Guild of America, East has filed unfair labor practices charges against ITV at the National Labor Relations Board. In the filing, WGAE alleges that the UK-owned television production company has failed to bargain in good faith and has violated federal labor law. From the WGAE statement:
The unfair labor practice charges stem from ITV’s unilateral decision to slash Guild-represented employees’ compensation by $300 a month and to implement a health insurance plan with deductibles so high that employees would never get paid any actual benefits except if they were hospitalized for long periods (and even then they would pay many thousands of dollars out of their own pockets), the guild says in a statement. In addition, employees would have to pay $130 per month in premiums for this largely illusory coverage. This health plan is much worse, and costs employees much more, than what ITV had previously said it was willing to offer.
The charges follow years of frustration at the bargaining table where ITV has refused to enter an agreement with the Guild despite repeated requests by elected officials at federal, state, and city levels; by the labor movements in the U.S., the U.K., and globally; and by ITV’s writer-producers themselves. Most recently, British Member of Parliament Helen Goodman, the Shadow Minister for Culture, the Creative Industries and Communications, wrote to ITV CEO Adam Crozier expressing concern about ITV’s refusal to follow standard U.S. labor practices.
“We have negotiated contracts with other employers doing the same work which provide better benefits to their writer-producers, and those employers pay far more of the cost of coverage,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “And those benefits are locked in by enforceable collective bargaining agreements that also guarantee minimum compensation levels, paid time off, holidays, and other basic rights like union security and a grievance and arbitration provision. It is incomprehensible that ITV thinks it can cut pay, violate federal labor law, and stiff-arm the Writers Guild while still proposing to expand its presence in the US television market.”
While ITV refuses to agree to a fair contract with its U.S. nonfiction writer-producers, top nonfiction companies Sharp Entertainment, Optomen and Lion Television have all reached agreements with the Writers Guild of America, East.