IATSE organizes ‘Date,’ ‘Wheel’

Employees vote for union representation

The Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has unionized the post-production staffs of Bobwell Prods., creators of reality shows “Blind Date” and “The 5th Wheel.”

IATSE said it won a Natl. Labor Relations Board election by a 36-23 vote under which the employees voted to be represented by IATSE Local 700, Motion Picture Editors Guild. Employees covered are both full and part time and include editors, assistant editors, graphic designers and duplication operators.

The union noted it had previously organized another pair of reality shows — CBS’ “Big Brother” and Endemol’s “Performing As…” Much of the reality television world remains non-union.

“It is critically important for our union to keep organizing these shows,” IATSE president Tom Short said. “This work is ours, and it needs to be union.”

Tris Carpenter, national organizer with Local 700, led the drive to organize the Bobwell shows.

The WGA West has launched a major effort to organize reality TV shows, signing up 1,000 writers as potential members during its organizing drive aimed at scribes working in the booming reality TV sector. Only a few of the several thousand writer slots on nonfiction cable series are covered by the guild.

WGA West prexy Victoria Riskin told members earlier this year that expanding guild jurisdiction to the reality TV sector would be a major priority in upcoming negotiations with studios and nets. Current contract expires May 1.

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