Editors for the long-running reality TV show “Survivor” have been granted union recognition and are now negotiating a contract, just days after they walked out on strike. The editors, who will be affiliated with the Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG), were demanding pensions and health care in addition to union recognition.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based editors work for the company Island Post Productions, Inc., part of television producer Mark Burnett’s media empire. They walked off the job on Wednesday morning; by that evening, management had agreed to negotiate a union contract. The strike action was suspended, although that doesn’t guarantee it won’t resume again if negotiations take a turn for the worse.
“They’re back at work but the strike’s not over,” said Ron Kutak, MPEG’s national executive director. “The strike isn’t over until the contract’s done, so they could walk at any time.”
Kutak has declined to discuss the negotiations. CBS, which airs “Survivor”, also declined to comment, and publicists for Mark Burnett did not respond to a request for comment from msnbc.
Show business tends to have relatively high union density compared to other industries in the United States, but reality television is usually an exception to the rule. Often times, reality television shows employ freelance crew members and eschew traditionally unionized Hollywood professionals, such as writers. As a result, unions say the reality TV sector offers low wages and precarious working conditions: In 2013, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) conducted a survey of more than 300 New York-area reality TV employees and found that 85% of them never receive overtime pay.