Monday, December 10, 2007

MTV Freelancers Walk Out!

I work in television and I am also a freelancer. In the freelance world there are two types of freelancers. Freelancers and perma-lancers. Perma-lancers are people who have held the same "freelance" job for a long time, if not, several years. For whatever reasons, (healthcare benefits, 401K plans, taxes) companies like Viacom and many other production companies keep employees as "freelancers" opposed to making them staff. This is something I've come to accept years ago and have managed to get benefits through other, often overwhelmingly bureaucratic means. Those at MTV who have been perma-lancers for a long time are suddenly getting their health care providers switched and changes to their 401K plan. From what I hear there is still a lot to be explained both by Viacom (owner of MTV) and the payroll company MTV deals with. Many of the perma-lancers I know over at MTV are upset this bad or head-achey news is coming right before the Holidays and right before the New Year, a time when the production world is notoriously slow or frozen.

It would be nice if a company were to offer me benefits, but I'm a freelancer and in television one can only work from project to project. Once that project ends, whether it's a week, month, or a few years, there is no more work- you must find the next project.

However, had I been with MTV for a long time- if I were a perma-lancer this would directly affect me, the benefits and 401K plan I've been acquiring and yes, I'd be upset and have a feeling of employer disloyalty. The people affected by this have a right to walk out. I guess we'll have to see what new deals and plans Viacom can come up with. In the mean time this should be a lesson to all freelancers. Don't depend on anyone but yourself. Cover your own ass. You never know when or if the job you've been hired for will fall out from under you.

Check out for freelancer health insurance information.
For more information read this article. Photos also courtesy of Gawker.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess when you work in tv, freelancing would be more normal - but I'm a viacom "freelancer" and I have a desk job that has nothing to do with tv. And I was not told that I wasn't considered a regular employee until after I started work. I am a w-2 employee - not a 1099 contractor, so I had no idea when I filled out the paperwork.