The Emmy-nominated postproduction crew of CBS’s long-running hit reality television series Survivor notified their employer of their intent to obtain a union contract with health and retirement benefits.
Crew members overwhelmingly signed cards authorizing the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) to negotiate on their behalf, and the IATSE sent Mark Burnett’s Island Post Productions, the editorial crew’s employer, a letter requesting an immediate start to contract talks.
The demand for union recognition comes as several members of the postproduction crew prepare for Saturday’s 2014 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy awards. Editors for Survivor have been nominated for Emmys in all but one of the past 14 years, and have received multiple nominations in several years.
“Over the course of 28 seasons, the postproduction crew of Survivor has crafted a wildly successful program, one that has helped to define the genre of reality television,” said Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700) president Alan Heim, ACE. “For each week’s show, these artists and craftspeople distill over 200 hours of raw footage down to one hour of primetime entertainment for millions. These talented individuals seek the same basic industry standards that their counterparts on most primetime broadcast network programs have long enjoyed. After 28 successful seasons and 16 Emmy nominations for outstanding editing, that doesn’t seem too much to ask.”
Season 29 of the show, currently in postproduction, is scheduled to premiere on Sept. 24. Work on the 90-minute premiere special is not yet complete.
Work on a number of other unscripted television shows produced by Mark Burnett, including The Voice and Shark Tank, is already covered under IATSE union contracts. The overwhelming bulk of CBS’s primetime programming, including its reality TV hit Big Brother, is produced pursuant to IATSE agreements.
The Motion Picture Editors Guild is Local 700 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Established in 1937, the guild now represents more than 7,300 postproduction professionals working nationwide in television, features and new media.
In recent years, the IATSE and the Editors Guild have had success winning union contracts for crews working in unscripted television. The crew of Naked and Afraid, another show nominated this year for an Emmy in the category of outstanding picture editing for reality programming, won an IATSE contract after a six-day work stoppage of the editorial crew last November.