While a union dedicated to just comic creators has been discussed for decades (and probably be a while before one happens), the production and writing team behind the show Comic Book Men have been attempting to. The effort is being organized by the Writers Guild of America East.
Original Media is the company behind Comic Book Men, Swamp People, Inkmaster, NY Ink, LA Ink, Miami Ink, The Rachel Zoe Project and much more. In 2014, the writers and producers voted overwhelmingly to unionize and join the Writers Guild. The vote was 42 to 9. It was a part of a campaign by unions to organize writers in the reality television business. The goal is to provide the kind of benefits and working conditions writers on scripted shows receive. The claim is reality show writers put in long hours without extra pay (some work up to 70 hours a week) and denied insurance and other benefits.
Since then the WGA East has said that Original Media has “refused to bargain in good faith.” Original Media is also being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board for “failing to bargain in good faith, and by the wage and hour authorities for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from their freelance workforce.” The Writers Guild has successfully negotiated collective bargaining agreements with at least three other nonfiction television production companies.
In 2013 the editorial crew of Swamp People walked off the job due to a dispute with Original Media. The walkout was due to “unfair labor practice … unlawfully interfer(ing) with employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act by interrogating employees about union organizing activity.”
The WGA East is currently running a campaign to have individuals post labor-friendly tattoos on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #InkMasterUnion to show support. Below is some suggested text from their alert.
- Workers on @SpikeInkMaster deserve a fair contract. @OriginalMedia needs to ink a deal #InkMasterUnion
- I have ink. I watch@SpikeInkMaster. I want @OriginalMedia to stop #Unionbusting & sign a fair contract #InkMasterUnion
- I Support @OriginalMedia Workers right to a fair contract #InkMasterUnion
We have reached out to the stars of Comic Book Men and Kevin Smith for their comments. The show airs on AMC.