The guild accused Leftfield Entertainment, the largest “reality”/nonfiction production company on the East Coast, and ITV of union-busting for their failure to offer realistic salaries during recent negotiations. Lowell Peterson, exec director of the WGA East, told Variety that associate producers have been offered $800 for a 60-hour work week.
“That’s not even what fast-food workers make in New York City.” he added. “We’ve got agreements on some of the contracts but the employers have been utterly inflexible on the salary issue.”
Part of a flyer distributed Thursday read: “The people creating this extremely profitable reality television are often left working long hours without overtime pay, unaffordable or constantly changing healthcare plans, little or no time off, and at times, extremely unsafe working conditions.”
Chants included, “This is what the union looks like” and “ITV, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.”
The WGA East unionized the Leftfield writer-producers last year, covering shows such as “Tiny House,” “American Grit,” “Pawn Stars” and “Counting Cars.” The guild picketed at A&E Networks headquarters in Manhattan on Nov. 15.
ITV issued a blistering response: “In what has become its routine unprofessional and egregious behavior, the WGAE is continuing to perpetuate its many lies and mischaracterizations of the facts while we at ITV undertake to negotiate with the Guild in good faith.”
“Apparently the WGAE deems it a good use of its membership’s dues to travel people out to the Sherman Oaks Galleria to protest management that is not only continuing to do its work at the bargaining table, but that currently offers pay well above the ‘minimums’ the Guild has negotiated with other production companies, provides healthcare, paid time off, controls on hours worked, retirement and many other benefits already standard practice at ITV. This transparent, propaganda-driven stunt notwithstanding, Leftfield will continue to do our good faith negotiating with the WGAE as we have been. Meanwhile, we sincerely hope that anyone who hung around the mall for the excruciating 60 minutes in the California sunshine was able to stop by the Cheesecake Factory for a yummy slice of strawberry pie.”
The guild began organizing reality TV six 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.