2017 was another eventful year for the WGAE union effort in nonfiction television!
We continued to mobilize industry-wide because in a freelance work environment, this campaign is about elevating standards throughout the entire industry, not just at individual production companies. We held a mass meeting in March to give updates on our organizing campaign and a lunch action in Bryant Park in April to remind ourselves that having time to eat lunch shouldn’t be a radical act. We brought rampant issues with hours, scheduling, and safety to the attention of city officials and labor allies through the Office of Labor Policy and Standards. And we continued to bring people together in less formal, social settings like happy hours, which we know can be lacking in an industry where people move around a lot.
Lunch Action Bryant Park 2017
Over the summer, we held a two-day showrunner training, developed and led by experienced showrunners. People in this industry don’t typically stay at any one job for very long, making it a challenge to identify a clear path to advancement. Professional development opportunities can be hard to find. This training was part of a much larger effort by the WGAE’s industry-wide committee to identify areas of the industry where the Guild can make a difference.
Showrunner Training WGAE 2017
Ultimately, we focused much of our attention this year on continuing to unionize this industry; weorganized Vice, where hundreds of people working on video content for Vice editorial, Viceland, and HBO now have a union and the collective power to address important issues around pay, benefits, and hours, among others. And we’ve continued to make strides toward achieving WGAE contracts at Leftfield, ITV/Kirkstall, and Peacock Productions. Throughout those negotiations, we’ve continued to see active support from our WGAE colleagues in scripted TV, who understand that elevating standards in our industry is good for all writers and producers in media and entertainment.
As we move into a new year, let’s remember what we’re fighting for in this industry – basic protections like health care, standard minimum rates, reasonable schedules, a safe working environment, and paid time off. If you haven’t, sign the industry-wide demands here.
We’re looking forward to keeping up the fight in 2018. Onward!