June 5, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Toronto, Canada – Reality-TV employment is called the “Wild West” by many in the entertainment industry because workers have so few rights.
So the Canadian Media Guild, which represents workers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Canadian Press, and Agence France-Presse, is campaigning to organize “factual television” workers. “Workers in this industry have been flying under the radar for a long time,” Guild campaign organizer Lise Lareau told the Rabble.ca Web site. Many are hired as independent contractors, which means they have no right to paid overtime, sick days, or vacation; no guaranteed safety protections; and no right to unionize. In these gig-economy conditions, “two or three part-time jobs doesn’t always add up to a full-time job,” said former factual-TV worker Denise O’Connell. “It either adds up to less than a full-time job, or more than a full-time job.” One editor who insisted on anonymity said they were once given 90 minutes notice that their contract was being terminated six months early. The union wants to create a standard agreement for production companies, Lareau said. An Ontario government report released May 23 recommended that the provincial Ministry of Labour make misclassification of workers a priority for enforcement. Read more