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WGA Backing Reality Writers in Labor Lawsuit

Jul 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The Writers Guild of America is backing 12 reality television staffers in a class action lawsuit filed against eight networks and production companies alleging violation of labor laws.

The suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims reality programs including “The Bachelor” and “The Real Gilligan’s Island” hired writers to craft story lines for the shows and gave them titles such as “story editor” and “segment producer” to duck WGA wage requirements. Furthermore, the writers claim they were required to work upwards of 80 hours a week without overtime pay and to falsify their time cards, a violation of state labor laws.

“These violations of California law are no mere accounting errors,” said Daniel Petrie Jr., WGA West president. “They are deliberately designed to deny these writers the basic rights and legal protections of fair wages, overtime, and a meal break. These are major production companies and networks with financial and creative control who should be ashamed to have talented writers with a de facto hourly pay of less than $10 per hour, with no overtime, no meal periods, no pension and health, and no residuals.”

The companies named in the suit include four networks (CBS, The WB, ABC and TBS), and four production companies (Next Entertainment, Telepictures Productions, Syndicated Productions and Dawn Syndicated Productions).

A spokesperson for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the networks and producers and negotiates union contracts on their behalf, had no comment.

In recent contract negotiations with the AMPTP, the WGA has tried unsuccessfully to expand union membership to include reality show staffers.