The Writers Guild of America East has negotiated a new three-year contract with Optomen Prods., a specialist in nonfiction programs for cable television networks.
Optomen shows include “Kevin McCloud: Escape to the Wild,” “One Bad Choice,” “Mysteries at the Monument,” “Mysteries at the Castle” and”What Have I Got.”
Optomen became the first nonfiction production company to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the WGA East in 2012 and is now the first to negotiate a renewal agreement.
The guild said the new agreement includes a significantly shorter waiting period to become eligible for health insurance, improvements to the health benefits themselves, more accrued paid time off, a new overtime provision, and pay increases for writer-producers earning the contractual minimum rate.
“When we started organizing in nonfiction TV several years ago, we knew it would take time to construct a solid foundation on which writer-producers could build solid careers,” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson. “As it did three years ago, Optomen negotiated in good faith, demonstrating its commitment to a high road strategy of respecting the work and contribution of the men and women who create the company’s shows.”
The guild has been organizing writer-producers in nonfiction television since 2009. It has collective bargaining agreements with three production companies — Sharp Entertainment, Optomen Prods. and Lion TV — and is negotiating with ITV and Original Media.
In March, the National Labor Relations Board certified the WGA East as the collective bargaining representative for freelance producers and associate producers at Jane Street Entertainment, which produces “Deep Fried Masters,” “Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off,” “Rowhouse Showdown” and “Cousins Undercover.”