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Courtesy of WGA East

A long-running labor dispute between ITV and the Writers Guild of America East has resulted in a settlement that will enable the two sides to return to the bargaining table.

ITV, which produces “The First 48” and “Four Weddings,” agreed to settle a case brought against it by the National Labor Relations Board. The guild had alleged that ITV violated federal labor law and directly undermined employees’ decision to join with the guild. The NLRB had scheduled a trial that would have started on Monday.

Instead, ITV agreed to a settlement that will pay over $55,000 to current and former employees represented by the WGA; reinstate the $300/month stipend it terminated in January 2015 when it unilaterally implemented a health plan; and allow them to return to the bargaining table with the union.

“The most fundamental principle of collective bargaining is that an employer cannot change employees’ terms and conditions of employment unilaterally,” said Lowell Peterson, exec director of the WGA East.

“The company is obligated to bargain in good faith with the Guild on all issues — pay rates, paid time off, benefits and union protections like grievance, arbitration and union security — until the parties reach agreement on all issues. In the coming weeks, we will return to the bargaining table to negotiate benefits that are meaningful (and affordable) to a freelance workforce and all the other elements of a reasonable contract.”

ITV issued an announcement that disputed the guild’s version:

“The WGAE is attempting to spin the constructive deal reached with us as a victory. It is not. ITV’s position has remained consistent throughout the negotiations and unlike the WGA, we have always sought to engage and talk to them in a spirit of good faith. However, we could not agree to a settlement that put our employees’ healthcare in jeopardy or put us in a position of potentially violating federal law which the union initially pushed for. The WGA has eventually agreed to a settlement that put the interests of their members first rather than their own.”

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