FOR RELEASE AT 11:30 A.M., EDT, OCTOBER 2, 2014.
CONTACT: Rob Callahan
National Organizer, IATSE Local 700
Giant Rats Loom Outside of NBCUniversal Facilities After Bravo Retaliates Against Post Crew
IATSE Takes Bicoastal Action to Challenge Network's Firing of Shahs of Sunset Editors
New York and Los Angeles – October 2, 2014 – The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) held simultaneous protests on Thursday outside of NBCUniversal facilities on the east and west coasts. The union erected giant inflatable rats, frequently used in labor disputes to symbolize union-busting employers, outside of NBCUniversal headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York and outside of the gates to Universal Studios in Universal City, California.
"This NBCUniversal network calls itself Bravo, but nobody is applauding," said Alan Heim, ACE, President of the Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700). "This fight is no longer a simple dispute about health insurance or other contractual terms. It's about employees' fundamental right to organize, free from their employer's retaliation. That right has been enshrined in federal law for the better part of a century, but Bravo has now demonstrated its thorough contempt for its crew members and those employees' rights."
Today's bicoastal protests come days after the union filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board in response to Bravo Media's illegal termination of sixteen Shahs of Sunset post-production employees on strike for a union contract.
Shahs of Sunset post-production and production workers walked off the job on September 10, shutting down work on the fourth season of the successful Bravo reality television show to demand health and retirement benefits. On September 26, shortly after preliminary contract negotiations had begun with Ryan Seacrest Productions, the production company publicly announced that the network had intervened and that the employer would therefore "be unable to continue working with the editors that were previously engaged on this production." The firing of the sixteen post-production employees was widely reported in trade publications. On September 29 the IATSE charged Bravo with illegally retaliating against employees exercising their right to engage in concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.
Federal law protects employees’ right to organize, including their right to strike. It is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act for an employer to retaliate in any way against employees for their exercising their rights under the law.
Due to the work stoppage, Bravo has indefinitely postponed the scheduled October 13 premiere of the show's fourth season. Heim, whose many editorial credits include the 1976 feature Network, which anticipated the advent of reality telvision, vowed that Shahs would not complete its season with scab labor. "No self-respecting editor is going to cut this show after this show cut their colleagues," Heim declared.
The campaign to organize Shahs of Sunset follows several successful IATSE efforts to organize crews on unscripted television productions in recent years. Most recently, a one-day strike of the editorial crew of CBS's Survivor in August resulted in that crew's winning a union contract with health benefits, pensions, and eight-hour workdays.
The Motion Picture Editors Guild is Local 700 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Established in 1937, the Guild now represents more than 7,300 postproduction professionals working nationwide in television, features, and new media.