IATSE and Teamsters picket producers of '1000 Ways to Die'
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Teamsters Local 399 organized picket lines Monday morning outside the Burbank production office of Original Productions, the producer of the Spike TV show. “1000 Ways to Die” has become the latest flash point in an effort by Hollywood's leading unions to extend contracts to the rapidly growing cable TV sector.
In mounting a strike against the show's producers, IATSE and the Teamsters are alleging that about 30 crew members were fired last week after they unanimously voted to join the unions so they could secure health and pension benefits, safe working conditions and collective bargaining rights.
“This is a successful show,” said Steve Dayan, business agent for Teamsters Local 399, which represents location managers, casting directors and drivers. “They’re making money and they’re doing it on the backs of this crew.”
Jonathan Hanrahan, a transportation coordinator for “1000 Ways to Die,” was among the protesters walking the picket line Monday. “We work really hard on this show and we go the extra mile," Hanrahan said. “All we’re asking is that we have the opportunity to receive health and pension benefits and be properly compensated for our efforts.”
In a statement, Original Productions accused union officials of urging crew members to walk off the job last week and denied claims from union leaders that they had refused to meet with them.
“Neither union has made attempts to meet with the company prior to the picket line announcement,” the company said in a statement. “IATSE and Teamsters have not filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for certification, nor have they demonstrated a majority of the crew signed cards... It is the company’s position that it is not obligated to recognize these two unions as bargaining representatives. Original Productions has always offered competitive wages and excellent working conditions.”
Monday's rally included representatives from the Writers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the AFL-CIO.
Now filming its fourth season, "1000 Ways to Die" re-creates unusual ways in which people have died. Original Productions, which makes a number of reality TV programs, including "Ice Road Truckers" and “Deadliest Catch,” has already hired replacement workers, union officials said.
This marks the second time in the last 15 months that IATSE and Teamsters have mounted a high-profile strike in Hollywood. In late 2010, the unions waged a successful walkout against the producers of the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser."
— Richard Verrier
Photo: Paula Kaatz (seated) with other picketers as they protest outside the production offices of Original Productions in Burbank on Monday. Two unions, the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees and the Teamsters Local 399, are staging a strike against "1000 Ways to Die," which is produced by Original Productions. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.