Saturday, September 27, 2014

Leverage ... and Hard-To-Move Objects

A brief back-story: A couple weeks back, the editors on the reality show Shahs of Sunset went on strike. Apparently they wanted better pay, saner hours, and health and pension benefits. Socialistic things like that.

Since the walk-out, there's been a picket line on Wilshire, with which the Animation Guild has been proud to help out. A week ago, NBC-Universal moved the shows launch date back, and now there is this:

Bravo has taken over production on its reality series “Shahs of Sunset” from Ryan Seacrest Prods. to end the standoff with 16 editors who are seeking IATSE representation.

Bravo and Ryan Seacrest Prods. confirmed the shift in production responsibility on Friday afternoon. The show had been in post-production on its fourth season when 14 editors and two assistant editors went out on strike earlier this month, demanding an IATSE contract.

IATSE condemned Bravo’s move to fire the editors as a violation of the employees’ legal right to organize. ...

The story here is pretty simple: union yanks crew. Company decides to be hard-fanny.

But the company would, we think, take a different tack if Shahs of Sunset was a major hit, pulling in big bucks for NBC-Universal, and advertisers were screaming.

But that's not the case.

The ratings for Shahs are far from stellar, ranking down below any number of animated half-hours and the 4,522nd re-running for Friends on the magical Nielsen list, so NBC-Universal (the owner of Bravo, on which the show airs) is not feeling too vulnerable.

The situation would be different if SoS was a more valuable commodity, but it rates what it rates, and the boys and girls at the network aren't about to let some uppity labor organization waltz in and grab better wages and benefits for its members without a fight. Especially when the show is marginal and the corporation doesn't stand to lose much.

So NBC-U will try to get current episodes completed with some other crew, the Editors Guild will work to get a contract, and the strike will go on.

And it's safe to say that union leverage has, because corporate stakes are low, met a hard-to-move object.


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