April 23, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
New York, NY – About 200 reality-show writers staged a one-day strike in New York Apr. 12 as part of an organizing campaign by the Writers Guild of America, East.
Reality-TV writers “rarely have access to health care and are often placed in dangerous situations in the field,” Jess Beck, a writer-producer who helped to organize the walkout, told the Los Angeles Times, and also often work overtime and weekends without extra compensation. WGAE head Lowell Peterson said in a statement that reality-TV writers often have difficulty negotiating better pay and benefits when they “move from company to company, from project to project.” The walkout included writers from Leftfield Pictures, producer of “Pawn Stars.” Writers and producers there voted to join the WGAE in 2015, but the company has not agreed to a union contract yet. The action came as the WGA’s East and West Coast branches prepared to hold a strike-authorization vote. The union’s contract with major studios and broadcasters expires May 1, and talks have bogged down over issues including compensation from streaming and health and pension benefits. Read more