"Impossible to Organize" Workers Form a Union

As AlterNet reported in the story “A Group of Workers Corporate America Claimed Were Impossible to Organize Win Key Union Votes”, the Writers Guild of America, East has been organizing people working in non-fiction TV and making serious gains. Today we announce another major victory--one of the most important non-fiction basic cable TV production companies has agreed to bargain with the union its employees voted to join (that’s us).

This company, Lion TV, makes popular shows like Cash Cab (for Discovery), Megadrive (for MTV), History Detectives and America Revealed (for PBS). Historically, people working on non-fiction shows for cable haven’t been protected by union contracts. This has lead to exploitative working conditions like unpaid overtime and no benefits like health insurance for long term employees.. Now that Lion TV will join Atlas Media (another production company in this field) in recognizing its employees’ vote for union representation, writers, producers and researchers on their shows will finally be able to negotiate for the benefits and fair pay they deserve.

Corporate America and the pundit class said this couldn’t be done. That young people don’t see the value of unions (though polls say they do), that unions don’t know how to represent creatives or professionals, or people  who wind up working from gig to gig instead of staying at one employer for years and years (even though Hollywood folks, construction workers, and others have been union for years)  . . they say a lot of bunk.

Writers, producers and others working in this field recognize that their working conditions will never get any better unless they bargain collectively for improvements. They want the benefits of union membership and slowly but surely, they are winning them in our industry.  So take a minute to comment here to congratulate folks at Lion TV, share words of solidarity for folks at non-fiction TV companies that still haven’t recognized the union—and all other people struggling for their right to unionize.

Here’s our press release:


May 6, 2011

NEW YORK CITY - The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO is pleased to announce that Lion Television has agreed to recognize the Guild as the collective bargaining representative of its writers, producers, associate producers and researchers.  Employees working on such shows as Cash Cab for Discovery Network,Megadrive for MTV, and History Detectives and America Revealed for PBS had voted for Guild representation in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.  The NLRB has just certified the election results. The Lion Television bargaining unit will include almost 100 people.

Lion TV employees voted for Guild representation in December as part of an ongoing organizing campaign at many non-fiction basic cable production companies.    

“We welcome the Lion employees into our creative community, where they will join thousands of other members who do some of the best work in television, film, radio, and digital. We are pleased that Lion respects their decision to become part of the Writers Guild and we look forward to a long and productive relationship,” said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson.

The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO, is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The WGAE conducts programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers. In addition, it represents writers’ interests on the legislative level.  For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit www.wgaeast.org.  


AlterNet / By Elana Levin

Posted at May 6, 2011, 11:43am

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