IATSE Criticizes LIV Golf Over TV Production Crew Abuses

(Image credit: LIV )

Media tech labor union IATSE is accusing the producers of LIV Golf’s TV coverage of abusing the rights of union members and bringing in non-union workers in an attempt to avoid providing employee benefits. 

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees or IATSE (full name: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada), a labor union representing over 168,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons, made the charges this week and criticized LIV of being an outlier when it comes to employee benefits.  

“As it stands, the technicians behind LIV Golf’s telecasts are some of the few in major sports who do not receive health and retirement benefits when providing world-class coverage,” IATSE said.

In LIV Golf’s 2022 inaugural season, crew members worked under a union contract, which contributed to workers’ healthcare and retirement benefits, but the deal changed for the crew in LIV’s 2023 sophomore season.

“I gave up other work last year to commit to LIV because I knew I would receive much-needed healthcare contributions to keep my family in coverage,” said one crewmember. “But now that’s all changed, there seems to be plenty of money to spend on extravagant excess but not to guarantee the crew that puts their product on the air access to healthcare. These are industry standards, and the LIV executives could care less.”

To add insult to injury, IATSE accused the Saudi Arabian Government’s Public Investment Fund (PIF)—the primary financial backers of the league—of hypocrisy, spending up to $1 billion for the 2023 season alone.  

“Five golfers alone account for more than half a billion dollars in guaranteed contracts, tournament purses are in the tens of millions, and players, caddies, and extended entourages receive lavish private flights,” IATSE said. “These factors considered; the technicians bringing these events to television should be getting industry-standard wages and benefits."

The union said LIV Golf should ensure crews are taken care of. “As skilled and dedicated professionals, broadcast workers deserve fair benefits and working conditions that reflect the value of their contributions to LIV Golf,” said IATSE Representative Rachel McLendon. “We are calling on LIV to ensure that all workers have access to benefits and are given a voice in their workplace.”

IATSE is also calling on policymakers and industry leaders to support their position and restore union members to the LIV Golf production crew. 

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.