itvITV has reached a settlement with the Writers Guild of America East in a long-running labour dispute – but has accused the US union of spinning the deal into a “victory.”
A court hearing had been scheduled for today after the US government’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) upheld complaints filed in 2014.
The case follows the NLRB’s investigation of charges brought by the Writers Guild of America East AFL CIO (WGAE) against ITV’s non-fiction production arm in the US.

The WGAE had previously claimed ITV had cut guild-represented employees’ compensation by US$300 a month and “implemented a health insurance plan with deductibles so high that employees would never get paid any actual benefits except if they were hospitalised for long periods.”
The organisation also alleged that employees would have to pay US$130 per month in premiums for the coverage.

According to the WGAE, the NLRB determined that ITV violated its duty to bargain in “good faith” with the WGAE, unlawfully implemented the health plan and illegally dropped a monthly stipend the company had been paying to the union-represented employees.

ITV has now agreed to a settlement and will pay more than US$55,000 to current and former employees represented by the WGAE. The company will also reinstate the US$300-a-month stipend it terminated in January last year when it implemented a health plan.

The WGAE has said that ITV has also agreed to return to the bargaining table and agreed not to bypass the union in the future.

“The most fundamental principle of collective bargaining is that an employer cannot change employees’ terms and conditions of employment unilaterally,” said Lowell Peterson, the guild’s executive director.

“The company is obligated to bargain in good faith with the guild on all issues – pay rates, paid time off, benefits and union protections like grievance, arbitration and union security – until the parties reach agreement on all issues. In the coming weeks, we will return to the bargaining table to negotiate benefits that are meaningful (and affordable) to a freelance workforce and all the other elements of a reasonable contract.”

However an ITV spokeswoman said the WGAE was attempting to spin the “constructive deal reached with us as a victory,” adding: “It is not.

“ITV’s position has remained consistent throughout the negotiations and, unlike the WGAE, we have always sought to engage and talk to them in a spirit of good faith.

“However, we could not agree to a settlement that put our employees’ healthcare in jeopardy or put us in a position of potentially violating federal law, which the union initially pushed for. The WGAE has eventually agreed to a settlement that put the interests of their members first rather than their own.”

The news marks the latest chapter in the battle between ITV’s US operations and the guild. At the end of 2014 the WGAE urged its members not to work on NBC’s forthcoming remake of UK format Saturday Night Takeaway amid ongoing discussions with ITV over health benefits, paid time off and minimum levels of compensation.

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By Expat