WGA seeks to unionise writers of the reality TV genre

MUMBAI: The Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw) is organising an industry-wide campaign. The aim is to organise writers, producers, and editors of American reality TV shows.

Since last month when more than 500 people attended an organising meeting at the WGA theater in Beverly Hills, the guild has received nearly 1,000 signed authorization cards from writers, producers, and editors who work in reality television and want to be represented by the WGAw. Based on this overwhelming response by a majority of those working in the reality field, the WGA sent a demand letter for recognition to all of the major reality production companies. Unfortunately not one company has agreed to negotiate.

NWGA president Daniel Petrie Jr says, "This is why we now are taking our campaign public. The creative men and women who make reality television possible work without health and pension benefits or minimum salary protections or residuals. They often work under oppressive conditions, among them near universal indifference to and noncompliance with state and federal overtime laws. The Writers Guild is committed to seeing the end of this 'Holly-Mart."

These storytellers have united to change these practices once and for all, and they have the full support of our membership. Currently, we are reaching out to our members to keep them apprised of recent campaign developments. Nine thousand members of the WGA will receive a special 'Reality TV Extra' issue of our newsletter, which tells the stories of the writers, producers, and editors who help create these successful shows."

Petrie says that companies that are signatory to the basic agreement have chosen to engage in non-union production of reality TV. he accused the conglomerates, the broadcast and cable networks, and the reality production companies that reap the profits from licensing and product integration deals of ignoring the rights of the men and women who work for them.

"The responsible reaction for these companies would be to sit down with the WGA and bargain a fair contract covering these writers, producers, and editors. Collective bargaining is the right of all employees as American citizens.

"We sincerely hope that the industry agrees to sit down immediately and right these wrongs. The people working in reality TV deserve the protections of health and pension benefits, minimum salary, fair working conditions, and residuals  just like everyone else in the industry. If the industry refuses, we are prepared to take the actions necessary to achieve our goals and to assist the reality TV workforce as they seek enforcement of state and federal overtime laws."


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