After 2-Week Labor Battle, IATSE Settles With ‘Biggest Loser’

Agreement ends stage workers’ strike of NBC reality show

IATSE and "The Biggest Loser" have reached a settlement agreement, ending a two-week labor battle waged against the NBC reality show by its production workers.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 

"This agreement is a positive step forward for the crew of 'The Biggest Loser,' especially in the area of health benefits," said Mike Miller, VP and director of the film and TV division of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. "We are pleased to see them go back to work."

Added Lee Rierson, managing director and head of business operations for series co-producer Reveille: "We have reached a fair agreement with (IATSE), while managing to avoid significant disruption to the production, and are happy to see our entire crew working together again."

The impasse began two weeks ago, when camera operators, carpenters, make-up pros and other members of "Biggest Loser" production staff joined the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a move not supported by the show's producers.

Besides Reveille, 25/7 Productions and 3 Ball Productions also produce the reality series. Until the just-inked agreement, the producers recognized the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Film, TV and Radio Artists, but not IATSE.

The producers had been resisting their employees unionization, projecting as much as $2 million a year in added health and pension costs.

A week ago, on Nov. 15, the workers staged a protest outside the show's Calabasas, Calif. set, with about 60 picketers singing happy birthday at the top of their lungs, trying to disrupt a production sustained by scab workers.

Later in the week, after gaining endorsement from the Los Angeles branch of the AFL-CIO, the workers moved their protests to Burbank, holding a small picket outside NBC's studios.

Here's a statement put out by AFTRA several hours after the IATSE announcement:

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA, AFL-CIO) – a national union of more than 70,000 professional performers, recording artists and broadcast journalists – today released the following statement congratulating members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE) on reaching a tentative agreement covering crew members working on NBC’s reality program ‘The Biggest Loser’:

“AFTRA congratulates our brothers and sisters in IATSE on successfully reaching a tentative agreement covering crew members working on NBC’s ‘The Biggest Loser.’ We commend the men and women of IATSE for their solidarity and courage in their effort to achieve a fair agreement that provides union protections and benefits to ‘Biggest Loser’s professional crew.”