They write and produce popular reality television shows "American Eats" and "Cash Cab." They are freelancers working unpaid overtime and paying for healthcare out of pocket while the big media bosses rake in the profits. They are fed up and getting organized.
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) announced on Wednesday that hundreds of writers and producers of nonfiction basic cable shows are now campaigning for union representations at several television studios in New York City.
The WGAE, a union for entertainment workers, is forging new territory in labor organizing by developing new models of representation for this youthful set of urban creative workers.
The campaign has already gained momentum. In late 2010, writers and producers working for Atlas Media and ITV Studios voted to become the first reality television workers represented by the WGAE. ITV has appealed the union victory, but WGAE organizers expect the elections will soon establish collective bargaining agreements for about 150 workers at the two studios.
WGAE spokesperson Elana Levin told Truthout that the writers' interest in organizing is good news for a labor movement that is struggling to find a future in an America with fewer industrial jobs than in the past. Urban creative professionals represent new and important demographics for the labor movement, and many are learning about the benefits of being organized for the first time.