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And She Thought Murphy Had Labor Pains

October 04, 1992

Regarding "An English Empire?" and " 'Love & War,' English & Health Benefits," by Daniel Cerone (Sept. 20):

Although Cerone correctly pointed out that if Murphy Brown worked on Diane English's production crew she and her baby would have no medical benefits, I would like to add a number of important points.

First, English's company is not some poor, fledgling independent concern unable to afford a collective-bargaining agreement with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes.

On the contrary, the fate of Shukovsky English Entertainment is secure, its future fully subsidized by CBS. As has been well documented, CBS has agreed to lend SEE the approximately $300,000-an-episode deficit on "Love & War." If it or any of the four other SEE shows should fail, CBS will forgive the loans. If, on the other hand, the shows make it into syndication, SEE merely repays the loan out of its windfall profits. With terms like these, it's no wonder that Joel Shukovsky himself admitted to US magazine that it would be quite difficult to stay anything but independently wealthy off this subsidized arrangement.

Second, the article on health benefits failed to mention that when IATSE asked for recognition as a first step toward negotiating a contract with Shukovsky-English, the company responded by firing the union crew and hiring non-union replacements. This is a tactic worthy of the most outrageous union-busters rather than someone who presents herself as an advocate of liberal causes.

Third, that article ended with English stating that her company is giving "first-time breaks" to women and minorities who have been unable to get into IATSE. IATSE doubts the truth of this claim. However, even if it were true, IATSE would have gladly taken those employees into membership had SEE negotiated a contract in good faith.

If English's company signed an IATSE Hollywood agreement, her employees would become eligible to work on the more than 70 television productions covered by our contract. What better "first-time break" could English give her employees?


Business Representative

Local 659, IATSE


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