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Writers Guild Planning to Protest ‘Ink Master’ Finale

The Writers Guild of America East has announced it will protest the Oct. 13 season finale of Spike TV’s reality show “Ink Master” due to ongoing disputes with producer Original Media.

The WGA East, which began representing Original Media employees last year, announced the protest Monday along with disclosing that it has sent a petition to Spike TV President Kevin Kay signed by more than 4,600 people, calling on his network to make a deal with “Ink Master” writers and producers. The show is hosted by rocker Dave Navarro.

“More than a year ago, the writers and producers at Original Media voted to unionize to get collectively bargained health insurance, among other things,” the petition reads. “Instead of honoring this decision, Original crammed a substandard health care plan down employees’ throats, which led the NLRB General Counsel to issue a complaint alleging that Original violated federal labor law.”

The petition also asserts that “dozens” of Original Media employees have filed statements with state authorities detailing unpaid overtime and that Original is a defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by an “Ink Master” employee.

“We do not believe that Spike TV can ignore these major potential violations of the rights of Original Media’s employees,” the petition said. “Spike should not benefit from Original’s refusal to negotiate a reasonable, industry-standard collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America East. We call on Spike to take responsibility to ensure that Original respects the law and inks a fair deal with the union.”

The finale of the sixth season of the reality competition show will be shot in New York City. Navarro, Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck are the judges.

Original Media responded to the latest attack by accusing the guild of distortions.

“While negotiations between Original Media and the WGAE are ongoing, the WGAE continues to mislead our employees and others with distorted and incomplete information,” the company said. “We are disappointed that they are resorting to these tactics, instead of addressing these issues at the bargaining table where they should be discussed.”

WGA East exec director Lowell Peterson said, “Production companies like Original and networks like Spike need to understand that audiences care about the people who make the shows they watch. The writer-producers at Original voted overwhelmingly for WGAE representation and the WGAE knows how to negotiate good contracts in this part of the industry. Hopefully this petition will be a wakeup call to the company to stop breaching its employees’ rights and to reach an agreement.”

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