TV

WGA East requests meeting with NPA

The Writers Guild of America East is requesting a meeting with the Non-Fiction Producers Association in the hopes of negotiating better working conditions for its members.
May 6, 2015

The Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) is requesting a meeting with the Non-Fiction Producers Association (NPA) in the hopes of, in its words, “building a productive relationship” with the union.

WGAE – a labor union representing writers in film, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news – requested in a 521-word open letter that the 10-month-old non-profit trade group meet with them this month to discuss improved working conditions for its unscripted members.

At the time of the NPA’s formation, the WGAE expressed that it hoped to “work closely” with the NPA to address workplace issues affecting the union’s members.

The letter comes almost a week after NPA executive director Rick Feldman - the former NATPE president and CEO – exited the organization, which includes such member companies as Bunim/Murray Productions, 3 Ball Entertainment, MY Entertainment, Renegade 83 Entertainment and Leftfield Pictures.

“As you consider the future of the NPA, as you try to recruit a new executive director, why not agree to a meeting with the WGAE?” the union’s letter reads.

“We communicate with your writer-producers – thousands of them – all the time, through meetings and phone calls and surveys and emails,” it continues. “We know what they want, what they deserve. Hear us out.  Build a productive relationship with the union that your employees have turned to in their quest to build sustainable careers. Let’s meet this month.”

Speaking with realscreen, WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson said if the parties meet, the guild hopes to make “real progress” in areas identified by the NPA in its mission statement, such as compensation, paid time-off and benefits.

In response to the open letter, the NPA issued a statement maintaining that its member companies provide fair compensation and benefits to their production employees.

“Like countless other trade associations, the NPA was created to promote the interests of its member companies and their employees,” the statement reads. “The continued growth and success of the non-fiction television industry and its member companies is the NPA’s primary concern and goal.

“The NPA’s guiding principles include a commitment of each individual member company to provide fair compensation and benefits to its production employees, which each member does. After its search for a new executive director is concluded, the NPA looks forward to reaching out to all industry players.”

The WGAE recently staged a protest outside the Washington Hilton during January’s Realscreen Summit, urging ITV Studios to reach a collective bargaining agreement covering its non-fiction producers and writers.

The union has negotiated collective agreements with Sharp Entertainment, Optomen Productions, and Lion TV thus far, and – in addition to ongoing negotiations with ITV – is also in talks with Original Media.  It is presently awaiting a determination from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) at Peacock Productions, and in March was certified by the NLRB as the collective bargaining representative for freelance producers and associate producers at Jane Street Entertainment.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.

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