11/28/2007

Breaking the Law To Screw The Worker And Reap Bigger Profits: Corporate America's National Pastime

In his Huffington Post article, How Big Media Breaks The Law On "Survivor" Island, Jonathan Tasini writes:

It now appears that Big Media has been routinely breaking wage-and-hour laws, pocketing piles of money it should have been paying to writers who work in reality television. Here's the story. Turns out that reality television is a sweat-shop for the writers who make those shows happen: long hours with no overtime pay, no health insurance, and no pension.
He points out that this is a broader problem for all American workers, not just writers:

Big Media is taking part in a sham that is growing like a cancer throughout the American workplace--the misclassification of workers. Now, this sounds like a very boring phrase. And it would be if, in real life (as opposed to reality TV life), it didn't mean that lots of people were being robbed blind.
He closes by stating:
So, if you've wondered whether the Guild's strike is your fight, there is the crystal-clear answer. Writers Guild of America members are fighting the very same fight that every worker is fighting--the attempt by corporate America to rewrite the rules of the basic social compact, either by cutting peoples' pay or refusing to share in the money earned, or skating or snubbing the basic rule of law.
Check out the full article at:

www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-tasini/how-big-media-breaks-the-_b_74086.html

17 comments:

Ideefixe said...

He should have done more research--a goodly number of reality shows are DGA. And it's not just the bottom feeder junk of "reality" tv that's at fault--lots of those great PBS, Discovery documentaries and how=to shows are non-union, pay poorly, and have no over time, etc.

So sick of the bullshit said...

It is not the same fight! Get it through your thick over paid skulls. These writers may be being asked to stay longer and work more hours but they are still paid EXTREMELY well.

You guys sit here and talk like you are the coal workers fighting for better wages. There is a reason you fall under the category of white collar, you are financially above the average American.

Shut up already and let the people who are trying to make a living do just that. Let the IA members and PA's get back to the set. You know, the people who "are lucky to have jobs" because you and your stoned friends came up with some idea one night and put it down on paper.

Besides on reality the writers are like segment producers on the news. If you can prove that different please do. Any one who really knows what the do in the scheme of a reality show knows this is true.

You want to claim you are being unfairly treated, be a PA on those shows locked at 500/wk flat rate. Then come back and whine.

Captain Obvious said...

Oh no! Apples and oranges! We must capitulate now because we're sick of breathing conglomerate bullshit fumes instead of coal dust and it's just not the same!


Please.

So sick of the bullshit said...

Hey Captain,

Your quick witted responses are great but still you aren't proving me wrong. Thanks, and good luck next time.

Anonymous said...

Uh... Obviously you know how difficult it is to break into this business as an actor/writer/director etc... So, why are you upset that people have actually done it and only want what's fair with regards to the marketplace?

I'm sorry you're locked in at 5oo a week but let's be real - I can do what you do, you can't do what I do. If you could, you'd be doing it. Don't be hater.

PS - This was written on paper one night with my stoned friends.

So sick of the bullshit said...

To anon,

Actually for the record I also write, and for all intents and purposes was close to a TV deal with a large studio right before the strike.

My anger doesn't come as a hater, it comes out of utter confusion as to how this came to be. Rather than sitting down earlier and working out a deal before the contract was up the WGA delayed them to gain more "leverage". Well that "leverage" has done nothing but put good people out of work.

P.S. I too was stoned when I wrote my pilot.

Captain Obvious said...

"There's no time like the present."


The writers did what needed to be done. It wasn't pretty, but last resorts never are.

I'm not here to convince you. I don't need to. What's done is done. It's up to you to convince yourself that going ballistic over it all won't change anything.

Que sera sera...

headlice said...

I don't see cooperation between the sectors, creators (writers/actors etc.) vs. corps, business.

Some creators and their companies get paid millions of bucks while others starve.

In the pay-as-you-go culture we live in there is no other alternative unless you create policy and a medium of cooperation by chartering and independent Board comprised of academic journalism media schools, media unions/guilds,the media industry and government to administer funds transferred to it from all sectors to provide equipment, funds and administrative assistance services for start-ups and existing companies and organizations insuring sustainable operations of smaller owned media organizations either as a non-profit or for-profit organization and have them pay into the Board when financial stability is achieved.(if this was tried before it was obviously not effective)

Otherwise it's back to the fight and 500 channels and nothing to watch senario.

so sick of the bullshit said...

No the writers did what greedy people do, screw the little people. Why not sit down earlier and try to work a deal out? The WGA wanted to strike all along and your fearless leader made sure it happened.

Captain Obvious said...

It should be noted that I'm a writer that hasn't qualified for guild membership yet. I respect the guild's position and have put my projects on hold during the strike.


That said, the AMPTP said before the strike that they needed years to figure out what to do about the internet. What makes you think a couple extra months would've changed anything? The AMPTP wanted a strike. That's why they opened negotiations with a grocery list of rollbacks. Give them some of your ire. If it wasn't for that this strike may never have happened. If it wasn't for the Alliance's unwavering stinginess we'd not be having this conversation.

The writers didn't screw the little people. They were collateral damage at best. The writers' contract expired and negotiations were fruitless. It was well within their rights to strike.

Justine Bateman said...

John Tasini is an excellent writer of labor relations and struggles. I would recommend to anyone who does not understand the meaning and benefit of union and for fighting for what 's right for now and the future to read Mr. Tasini's accounts of non-union labor conditions. There's an excellent recent article by Mr. Tanasi about the working conditions of the Victoria Secret garment workers; disgusting and horrific practices. Without unions, this is exactly what you get.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-tasini/victorias-secret-slave-_b_74261.html

sick of idiots said...

Sick of the bullshit...

No way, no how are you a writer. If you were, then you would know that reality writers are not paid EXTREMELY well. They are paid shit. Oh, and being a PA on any show sucks, but it's a great way into the business. Have a nice evening, troll!

DJ said...

I am not surprised that writers for so-called "reality shows" have poorer work conditions than for other shows. In general, reality shows are just a manipulation of teh laws that govern TV broadcasts so that corporations can make more money by bending the laws.

Misclassifying workers (usually calling an employee as a contractor) starts at a young age in America: the circulation managers at newspapers across the continent have their own professional organizations so that carriers are seen as "contractors" even though they are employees and therefore lose out on the right to safe work conditions etc.

wendz said...

I wish I could say to not just the WGA but to every underpaid/overworked worker in America to just hold on, eventually you'll get a government which doesn't suck the balls of big business and their political contributors, but I'm not sure that that'll ever happen.

Having said that, SSOTBS, I think that more than anything, the writers probably look at the producers and go "Wa-hey, you guys made enough money to feed a third world country, and we don't get a cent? We kinda made you rich, you know, so how's about forking over some of the money?"

It works like that with all industries, from medicine through to engineering through to finance to hospitality and retail. Why would anyone want to work if you didn't get a share in the profits?

Anyone can write, there's no debate about that. Not everyone can write well, though. Like Douglas Adams said "Writing is easy. You just stare at a sheet of paper until a drop of blood forms on your forehead."

I'd be pissed if I put my soul and love into a piece of work, some corporate bastard makes a mint off my stuff and I get none of the profits.

Iki said...

Misclassification of workers... exactly what my employer does when they close down a center filled with union workers saying they are no longer needed, and then open a new center in a different state that does the exact same job the old one did, but they staff it with management.

This isn't a new problem. And I'm not wondering if the writer's fight is my fight - I know it is. What I'm loving is that writers (and everyone else) are realizing that what's been my fight all along is now theirs also. There's power in that, and I can't thank you enough for bringing your fight to the people in a way we never could. People don't feel emotional about their telephones the way they do about their favorite TV shows.

Solidarity!

Anonymous said...

I understand the writers' want their royalties however I agree with SSOTBS. There are other people affected like crew and caterers who get paid WAY LESS than the producers, directors and writers. I am one of those crew members not in a union and have to fight tooth and nail just to get a weekly unemployment paycheck for less $500. Forget trying to get a regular job during the holiday season. That's impossible, now I have to figure out how to pay my rent and furnish holiday gifts for my family. Thanks, you all really knew when to put a strike into action. During the holiday season... :-/

ChristineR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.