Guild will represent writers, producers on reality shows

The Writers Guild of America East has unionized reality producers Atlas Media and ITV Studios and will represent about 100 writers and producers on their nonfiction basic cable shows such as “Four Weddings,” “Dr. G: Medical Examiner and “The First 48.”

The skeins are the first reality shows under WGA jurisdiction after the guild recently won representation elections conducted through the Natl. Labor Relations Board. The guild is now prepping for negotiations with Atlas while ITV is appealing the results of the election, which the WGA won 28-24.

The NLRB is currently conducting a third election for WGA representation for about 85 writers at Lion TV, which produces “Cash Cab” and “History Detectives.”

The WGA East representation drive has taken place over the past year, mostly targeting shows produced in New York City, with a focus on the issues of scribes working unpaid overtime and without employer-provided health-care benefits. Guild leaders assert that unionizing Atlas and ITV should give the WGA traction to expand into other shows.

“The non-fiction, basic cable sector had been completely non-union, which had left us in a chicken-and-egg situation in terms of there not being a precedent,” WGA East exec director Lowell Peterson told Daily Variety. “So we feel that now we have some real momentum.”

Justin Molito, WGA East organizing director, noted that the organizing campaign is stressing the value of collective bargaining as opposed to the difficulties that individuals face in negotiating pensions, raises and affordable health care, along with opposing excessive hours.

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