The writer-producers of "Worst Cooks in America," "History Detectives," "Cash Cab" and other cable TV reality shows will now be eligible for union health insurance and other benefits.
The Writers Guild of America East announced Wednesday that it negotiated "landmark" collective bargaining agreements with New York-based reality TV producers Lion Television and Optomen Productions. The companies are among about 20 producers of reality TV shows the union is attempting to organize.
The contracts were secured after more than a year of negotiations between the parties.
Under the agreements, hundreds of writers will receive company paid health insurance benefits, paid time off, minimum pay levels and will also be subject to grievance and arbitration provisions, the guild said in a statement. The contracts take effect immediately.
"We are very pleased to have reached agreement with Lion and Optomen," WGA East Executive Director Lowell Peterson said. "This is part of the television industry that has historically been non-union and these agreements demonstrate that people who join with the WGAE get, not just a community of creative professionals, but tangible improvements in their working conditions."
The Writers Guild of America has been trying for several years to organize shows in the burgeoning reality TV sector with limited success. The WGA West staged an unsuccessful strike against the producers of America's Next Top Model in 2006.