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Writers Guild East Reaches Successor Deal With Reality Producer Optomen

Reality show specialist Optomen Productions has agreed to a four-year successor deal to its collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America East.

Optomen’s shows include Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America,” Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me,” Nat Geo Wild’s “When Sharks Attack,” and ID’s “Scorned: Love Kills” and “Deadly Sins.”

“The Guild’s new collective bargaining agreement with Optomen offers a template for how writer-producers can build sustainable careers in the nonfiction television industry,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America East. “The Writers Guild of America East is committed to our efforts to bring economic and social justice to people who craft content in this multi-billion-dollar industry.”

It’s the third deal the guild has negotiated with New York-based Optomen. The renewal includes a 5% pay increase in post producer scale, the creation of a labor-management committee, and the transition of associate-producers from a weekly to an hourly overtime structure.

In 2012, Optomen became the first nonfiction production company to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the WGA East. In addition to Optomen, the WGAE has deals with Lion Television and Sharp Entertainment, and represents writer-producers at ITV’s Kirkstall Road Enterprises and Leftfield Pictures, NBCU’s Peacock Productions, and Vice Media.

The WGA East nonfiction television industry-wide committee said, “The people who work in nonfiction television are joining together to secure safe working conditions, fair pay, and health benefits. We are pleased that Optomen has shown leadership in an industry where the majority of production companies still have little regard for the well-being of their workforce.”

The union, which has around 5,000 members, has also been active in recent years in organizing digital news sites, and currently represents about 1,300 professionals at sites including Talking Points Memo, The Dodo, Thrillist, Vox Media, Onion Inc., HuffPost, Vice, The Intercept, ThinkProgress, MTV News, Salon, Slate, and Gizmodo Media Group.

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