The Writers Guild of America West has asked the federal government to intervene in its long-running dispute over the CW’s “America’s Next Top Model.”
Guild has filed unfair labor practice charges against Anisa Prods. with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the producers unlawfully eliminated the jobs of 12 “America’s Next Top Model” writers in retaliation for their decision to go on strike in July. They had demanded representation by the WGA West.
“America’s Next Top Model” is a “major hit for the CW, and the writers were valued employees who contributed to the show’s success,” said WGA West prexy Patric M. Verrone. “Yet as soon as they demanded union representation, the company decided they were expendable. This is illegal strike-breaking, an insult to the Hollywood talent community and an embarrassment to this industry.”
“America’s Next Top Model” exec producer Ken Mok released a statement: “When our story producers walked off the job, we exercised our right to sustain production during the strike. In the process, we were able to create a new system utilizing IATSE editors that has not only maintained the quality of our episodes, but at the same time has improved the efficiency of our post-production operation. As a result, we decided to move ahead in production with this new system in place, which puts our material directly in the hands of our editors without the intermediate step of story producers.”
The CW had no immediate response to a request for comment.
Move is the latest in the bitter four-month battle over the reality skein to which the WGA West has devoted significant resources as part of its two-year effort to gain jurisdiction over reality shows. Guild doesn’t yet cover a show despite having signed up more than 1,000 writers on such shows and having helped writers file lawsuits over alleged wage and working-condition violations.
Monday’s filing asserts that Anisa, headed by Mok, has violated federal labor laws by “terminating, eliminating the positions of and/or refusing to reinstate” the writers. Guild noted that Mok has informed the strikers that they no longer have jobs because the next cycle of the show will be produced without writers.
“The producers of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ have committed an egregious labor-law violation by eliminating the jobs of writers merely because they exercised their right to strike,” said Tony Segall, the guild’s general counsel.
The complaint asks the NLRB for an order reinstating the strikers, along with compensation for lost wages.