Reality Producers Accused of Sweatshop Conditions

Jun 26, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Producers of reality television shows have been accused of maintaining sweatshop-like conditions. At a hearing held by the New York City Council’s Civil Service & Labor Committee, WGA East Executive Director Lowell Peterson charged that writers on the shows are subjected to such conditions, Deadline.com reports.

While reality TV production houses were invited to the hearing, executives from those firms decided not to attend the hearing, which is investigating allegations of poor working conditions, the story notes.

About 2,200 of the 15,000 New Yorkers working on nonfiction TV are writers and producers, who “often work 12, 14, 16 hours or more per day,” according to a report presented to the committee.

The report adds that writers “often work weeks or even months without a day off. Five-day weeks are also rare. And 88% of producers and associate producers said they were ‘never’ paid overtime on their current jobs. When coupled with periods of unemployment between jobs, and no paid time off (vacation or sick leave) allowed while on a job, these exhausting work schedules lead to severe burn-out.”

City Councilman I. Daneek Miller, who served as chair at the hearing, said he would like to make sure reality TV shows aren’t eligible for New York tax subsidies, which is something the industry is lobbying for, unless the alleged mistreatment stops.

“I find it appalling that the executives of these industries have not shown up to justify their positions nor to justify their asking for millions of dollars of subsidies in taxpayer dollars so they can continue to make a lot of money and exploit workers,” Miller said.

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