The Writers Guild of America East has filed unfair labor practice charges against ITV with the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board.
The guild alleges that the UK-owned TV production company has failed to bargain in good faith and has violated federal labor law. The WGA has blasted ITV several times this year for alleged mistreatment of writers and producers on its shows.
The filing alleges that ITV has reduced Guild-represented employees’ compensation by $300 a month and implemented a health insurance plan with deductibles so high that employees would never get paid any actual benefits except if they were hospitalized for long periods. Employees would also pay $130 a month in premiums for this “largely illusory coverage.”
ITV had no immediate response Monday. The ITV shows involved include Nat Geo’s “Cesar 911,” “The First 48″ on A&E and TLC’s “Four Weddings.”
“We have negotiated contracts with other employers doing the same work which provide better benefits to their writer-producers, and those employers pay far more of the cost of coverage,” said WGA exec director Lowell Peterson.
“And those benefits are locked in by enforceable collective bargaining agreements that also guarantee minimum compensation levels, paid time off, holidays, and other basic rights like union security and a grievance and arbitration provision,” he added. “It is incomprehensible that ITV thinks it can cut pay, violate federal labor law, and stiff-arm the Writers Guild while still proposing to expand its presence in the US television market.”
The guild announced earlier this month that it would strike against Neil Patrick Harris’ new variety show for NBC unless ITV Studios signed a WGA contract. ITV did not respond but Harris issued a statement that the show would be produced with guild writers.
The WGA East has organized three reality-TV production companies — Sharp Entertainment, Optomen Productions and Lion TV — in recent years.