‘Pawn Stars’ Writer-Producers Unionize with Writers Guild

Writer-producers at Leftfield Entertainment, the largest nonfiction production company on the East Coast, have voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America East.

Leftfield, which is owned by the UK-based media conglomerate ITV, created the reality shows “Pawn Stars” and “Monster In-Laws.”

Out of 189 ballots cast, 121 people voted for the WGA East to be their collective-bargaining representatives at Leftfield. The guild said it now represents a “critical mass” of writer-producers in nonfiction TV with approximately 700 producers and associate producers at Guild-represented shops over the course of an average year.

“It’s time for production companies like Leftfield to recognize that unionization is here to stay in nonfiction TV,” said Lowell Peterson, WGA East Executive Director. “Writer-producers know how important collective bargaining is to improving their working conditions and to building sustainable careers.”

Leftfield Pictures and Loud TV released a statement about the vote expressing their displeasure:

“Leftfield Pictures and Loud TV are disappointed with the results of the vote, and the process, with the WGAE both lying and making unrealistic promises in an election environment that is beyond flawed. In its determination to win an election at Leftfield and Loud, the WGAE chose a voting pool that included production coordinators and casting – but not one writer – while implying to young voters that by joining the WGAE they could quickly become writers.

“Nearly 70% of the voting pool was made up of people who do not work here, and some of whom worked at Leftfield and/or Loud TV for as little as 2-3 weeks, whose vote counted as much as people who have worked here for five years plus.

“As the WGAE membership and dues have steadily declined over the last decade, it now seems focused on leeching itself onto an industry it knows nothing about and did not help create. The WGAE rallying cry of health care, vacation days, sick days and other benefits rang hollow at Leftfield, where these have been provided for years; therefore, the Guild had to reposition this election as being a “movement.” Yet, since they’ve never revealed what they’ve actually won from any of the three companies they’ve signed contracts with, it’s hard to imagine what the WGAE is planning to deliver against their promises. At this point, the reality is the WGAE simply will take any warm body that will pay dues.”

In response, the guild said the Leftfield statement was an example of its “failed strategy” of opposing unionization.

“Leftfield fails to mention it agreed that all of the voters who participated were eligible to cast a ballot and to be represented by the WGAE,” the WGA East said. “The company’s statement is an example of its failed strategy of hyperbole and vitriol. Now, it is time to move forward. We expect Leftfield to respect its employees’ overwhelming vote for WGAE representation.”

The guild began organizing reality TV five years ago. It represents writer-producers at the ITV-owned Kirkstall Road Enterprises, Original Media, Sharp Entertainment, Optomen Prods., Lion TV and Jane Street Entertainment.

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