Peacock Employees Are Organizing!

The following is a letter from the organizing committee of Peacock producers and APs.

Dear Colleagues,

We are happy to report that a strong majority of producers and APs here at Peacock Productions have signed cards designating the WGA as our collective bargaining agent. This is an important moment. As many of you know, the main goal of this campaign is to organize a union across the industry, at many production companies, so that freelance non-fiction producers can define a minimum standard for compensation and benefit levels for the work we do . In order to accomplish this we need to hold union votes company-by-company. Peacock will be the fifth company to unionize in New York, but the campaign is larger than just Peacock. As one of the top production companies we are in a position to advance the discussion about how the industry should treat producers and APs by leaps and bounds; not to mention inspire other producers and APs across town to follow our lead.

The WGA has represented storytellers in film and in scripted television for many years. Their members enjoy excellent health benefits, 401K, pensions, paid holidays, residuals, and guaranteed credits and minimum rates. Creative workers in the non-fiction television industry deserve no less. Instead we are saddled with relatively low weekly wages, no provisions for overtime, no health benefits, and no guarantees of anything more in the years to come. Nobody will give us what we need out of the goodness of their hearts. It is up to us to do the hard work of organizing and advocating for ourselves to get it.

Many of us agree that Peacock provides some of the better working conditions in town. We also believe that there is room for improvement. Choosing the WGA as our bargaining agent insures that we can advocate for our rights as a group, without fear.

This is NOT an attack on Peacock, nor is it is an attempt to divide the company. It is precisely because we care about Peacock and enjoy working here that we are invested in the hard work and long-term prospects of organizing and winning a contract.

In the coming weeks as we move towards a union vote we can expect Peacock to tell us that things are good here, we don’t need a “third party” to deal with the company, and that the WGA is in no position to get us anything we want. It is important you understand that the WGA is taking their cues from US, and that there is no point in doing this if in the end it doesn’t mean we end up with the power to advocate for ourselves. This process will be open, democratic, and fair. We risk nothing by organizing, but we risk a great deal by doing nothing and watching rates go down, production schedules get tighter, crews get leaner, etc.

Change will not happen here or anywhere else unless producers and APs band together across the industry. We are proud to join with the hundreds of other non-fiction producers and writers in the WGA’s campaign to organize creative workers in our industry. We sincerely hope that Peacock accepts the invitation to sit down with us and the WGA to have a productive, cooperative discussion. And we hope that when you receive your ballot, you will join us in voting “Union Yes.”

With respect and collegiality,

The Peacock Producers Organizing Committee

Senator Franken Joins Our Campaign

Washington, D.C. – The campaign to raise standards and win benefits for writers and producers working in the nonfiction television industry won a very powerful ally today: Writers Guild of America East member and U.S Senator Al Franken.

“As a member of three unions myself, I understand that all workers need to be fairly compensated for their hard work,” said Sen. Franken. “Unfortunately, today, too many professional television writers are forced into a system that does not always protect their interests in the workplace."

Writers Guild of America Executive Director Lowell Peterson joined Franken on a panel discussion for congressional staff and policy makers.  “The reality of freelance employment in nonfiction TV is that even creative professionals face grueling hours, no job security, no benefits, and no certainty about compensation,” said Peterson. “Writers and producers in this industry find that, joining with the WGAE, it's possible to change those conditions, but there is a lot of work to be done.”

In addition to Peterson, the panel – moderated by American Rights at Work and Jobs with Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta – featured Lee Ellenberg, a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman.  Senator Franken pledged his support to the nonfiction writer-producers in attendance at the panel. "I'm fighting alongside the Writers Guild to ensure that these writers are rewarded properly for their work."

For more resources on misclassification and contingent work, visit www.americanrightsatwork.org/misclassification.

S. 2252: Rebuild America Act www.help.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/

H.R. 3178: Employee Misclassification Prevention Act woolsey.house.gov/index.cfm