The WGA East and the Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700, have won a major victory in their joint effort to unionize producers and editorial employees at Story Syndicate, the Brooklyn-based documentary powerhouse behind such nonfiction features and series as Harry and Meghan and Unknown for Netflix, Fauci for PBS and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and Last Call for HBO.
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The American Arbitration Association independently verified that each guild had the support of a majority of Story Syndicate employees in their respective jurisdictions, and the company founded by Liz Garbus and Dan Cogan in 2019 now has agreed to voluntarily recognize the unions as their collective bargaining representatives.
Historically, most documentary production companies have been nonunion, and their workers have not enjoyed the same workplace benefits and protections as their counterparts in the entertainment industry’s heavily unionized scripted sector. Notable unionized exceptions include documentary companies run by Emmy winner Ken Burns and Oscar winners Michael Moore and Errol Morris.
“The bargaining unit employees at Story Syndicate have created hit nonfiction series for Netflix, HBO and many other networks, and together we will negotiate a contract that addresses their real concerns and aspirations,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East. “They join many other nonfiction TV creators who recognize the power of collective bargaining and the WGAE to improve standards so people can build sustainable careers doing the work they care about.”
Said Editors Guild President Alan Heim: “Documentaries give viewers a unique window into our world, offering insights that no other form of programming can replicate. The documentary editing room is where all kinds of disparate footage find their shape as story. The artists who shape these projects deserve all the recognition, respect and workplace protections that their scripted counterparts have long fought for. That’s why we are thrilled to welcome the talented Story Syndicate crews into our union family.”
The Story Syndicate Union Organizing Committee said: “Story Syndicate rightly prides itself on creating work that is progressive. Our documentaries advocate for positive change and affirm human rights. We are gratified that the company has put into practice the values it puts on the screen and has respectfully recognized our decision to unionize.”
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