Not Funny: Writers of "The Onion" News Show Could Go on Strike Monday [But They Unionized Instead!]

Update: The WGAE announced on August 2 that ONN writers have joined the union. "The agreement will increase minimum weekly compensation and provide pension and health contributions, retroactive to the start of writing earlier this summer," the statement reads.

What's with the assault on satire today? First Jon Stewart gets banned in the UK (well, for a week anyway), and now we learn that the Writers Guild of America-East, on behalf of the writers of the Onion News Network, is embroiled in negotiations about compensation and benefits with parent company The Onion, Inc. If the two sides don't reach a deal over the weekend, ONN writers may strike, starting Monday morning.

The Comic's Comic reports:

An email from the WGA informed [Onion writers] last night, the ONN writing staff were not about to continue their second season as "the only scripted live action television show now in production where the writers did not work under a WGA agreement," without health benefits, Guild pay and a contracted set term of employment. The WGA and The Onion -- much like Democrats and Republicans in Congress playing chicken over the debt ceiling deadline -- have yet to reach an agreement, and are looking at a possible work stoppage.

As this excerpt indicates, the WGA sent an email to current and former writers of The Onionnewspaper asking for their support. (Although both The Onionand the ONN are operated by The Onion, Inc., they are separate entities that have little personnel overlap, according to the Huffington Post. However, the two entities do frequently support each other in these types of negotiations.)

More from HuffPost:

This is not the first time The Onion, Inc. has come under fire for its company benefits. Last month, the paper's Philadelphia city editor Emily Guendelsberger was the victim of a random attack, and according to The Philadelphia Daily News, her job did not provide health insurance to cover the hospital bills. A statement from the company seemed to indicate that she was not covered.

(It should be noted that The Onion's national features editor, Joe Garden, auctioned off original joke books in order to help cover Guendelsberger's medical costs.)

Read more about the potential strike, including the WGA's letter to Onionwriters, here and here.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at July 30, 2011, 6:21am

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