‘Biggest Loser’ labor dispute continues

Facing strike, producers plan to shoot with non-union crew

“The Biggest Loser” labor dispute remains unresolved.

Producers of the NBC reality series, facing a strike by the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, plan to begin shooting with non-union crew next week, according to the skein’s director of photography.

Vanessa Holtgrewe told Daily Variety that production companies 3Ball and Reveille have refused to sign an IATSE deal even though every single member of the crew of about 50 has voted in favor unionization.Key factors driving support for a union pact are health coverage and safety.

“We want our hours to count toward qualifying for the health plan,” Holtgrewe said. “And if I’m having to shoot something in a cherry-picker, I want have a union person strapping me in.”

Holtgrewe also said she’s “heartbroken” over not being able to work and remains hopeful that the dispute can be resolved soon.

NBC and Reveille have declined to comment about the dispute, which became public on Wednesday when IATSE president Matthew Loeb made the announcement about the strike. Loeb noted at that point that the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and the Directors Guild of America already have agreements with the production.

“The Biggest Loser” is in its 10th season. Production hasn’t taken place in over a week, according to Holtgrewe, who’s worked on the show since its fourth season.

“Biggest Loser is the last big reality show standing that is not a union show,” Holtgrewe said in a message sent Friday. “Survivor, The Bachelor, American Idol, Project Runway, Top Model…these are all union shows. We’ve been using union members’ expertise, safety knowledge, and skill sets for many seasons, without paying the union for it. And now the check has come due.”

AFTRA said Sunday, “AFTRA wholeheartedly supports IATSE in their efforts to organize the production crew of ‘The Biggest Loser.’ We have a contract that covers one performer who works on the program, and we believe that our colleagues in the crew also deserve the benefits, protections and good wages provided by a union contract.”

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