Saturday Night Live About To Shut Down?

Saturday Night Live's post-production editors are going on strike in April, shutting down the show until NBC meets their demands.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

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Whether you love it or hate it, Saturday Night Live has been a comedy institution for nearly half a century. This has given the show ample opportunity to make history regarding the entertainment industry (and the occasional beef with John Oliver). Now, though, Variety reports that SNL is making history in a different way: it is being hit by its first show-specific strike on behalf of the post-production editors, all of whom are prepared to go on strike beginning April 1.

We know little about the Saturday Night Live post-production editing team except that it comprises 12-20 people. The crux of their claims (and the reason behind the potential strike) is that this team is paid far below the industry standard for their work. And this isn’t standard across the board: while their colleagues make pay consistent with industry standards, the post-production editors only receive a fraction of the wages they should be paid.

Behind the scenes, these Saturday Night Live editors have been engaged in negotiations with NBC, but it appears these negotiations are going as well as Aubrey Plaza’s audition. While the network has proposed raising wages, their new wages are still far short of what these post-production editors could make by working on a union show. This is largely due to how the costs of living have increased so much that the increased wages proposed by NBC would be insufficient.

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Ryan Gosling on Saturday Night Live

Also at stake is the health coverage received by these Saturday Night Live post-production editors. The network has proposed a two-tiered health benefits package that would effectively provide inferior coverage to future hires as well as a “management right’s” clause that would let executives change rules and policies in the workplace and subcontract out work (a handy way to get around future issues with employees). Needless to say, the post-production editors don’t agree with these proposals, nor do they agree with the insufficient wage increase offered, so it looks like a strike may go into effect in early April that may indefinitely shut Saturday Night Live down.

The last thing NBC wants is for Saturday Night Live to shut down (they don’t need another Matt Lauer-level scandal), and the network hopes to reach an agreement with the editors involved sooner rather than later. Those editors, incidentally, have the full support of many on the crew who openly wear shirts saying “Contract Now” to work (the shirt is encouraging NBC to sign the contract proposed by the editors). And eagle-eyed viewers could see some of these shirts on crew members during the on-camera farewell at the end of the show broadcast on February 4 (the one with hilarious skits by Pedro Pascal).

Ultimately, while predicting the future is impossible, we think things are looking pretty good for the Saturday Night Live post-production editors. Not only do they have the power to shut down the show, but they have a network very eager to negotiate, and that same network must also be aware of how difficult it will be to hire future talent now that everyone knows how little NBC will pay them. But if April rolls around and a strike does happen, we hope the network realizes that exploiting employees like this is no laughing matter, especially once they start bleeding money they could have paid to their crew.