The WGA accused ITV America, which produces reality series including Nat Geo’s “Cesar 911,” “The First 48” on A&E and TLC’s “Four Weddings,” of “stealing” an average $30,000 annually from each of its writers and producers.
The guild made the accusations after parent company ITV reporting a 30% increase in profits for 2013.
A rep for ITV responded by saying, “ITV Studios America is in ongoing talks with the WGA East and have no further comment at this stage.”
The WGA East said its survey showed conditions of ITV’s sets to be “grueling,” with writers and producers forced to work 10 hours per day, six and seven days per week.
“Our goal in organizing writer-producers in nonfiction TV is to enhance their ability to build sustainable careers,” said WGA East exec director Lowell Peterson. “Companies like ITV simply cannot insist that employees devote every waking moment to the company, month in and month out.”
The WGA East said the company’s own time records show employees sometimes work 60 to 80 hours a week, without a dime in additional pay.
“Under intense pressure from the WGAE, ITV finally relented two weeks ago and began paying all associate producers at the rate of time and a half for all hours worked over 40 in a week,” it added.
The battle between the WGA East and ITV dates back to 2010, when the guild won an election to make it the bargaining representative. In 2012, the National Labor Relations Board rejected the final appeal by ITV to challenge the certification of the election.
The WGA East reached three-year master contract agreements with Lion Television and Optomen Prods. in 2012 as the culmination of a two-year organizing drive targeting shows produced in New York City.