Nickelodeon Producer Called Union-Buster

     LOS ANGELES (CN) - Three teachers of child actors claim in court that the producer of several Nickelodeon shows avoids hiring union workers and illegally classifies teachers as independent contractors to avoid paying employee benefits.
     Barbara Bass, Steven Elster and Linda Stone sued production companies Rocart and on-set education services company On Location Education West in Superior Court, alleging unfair competition.
     "Defendants' unlawful and unfair business practices divert jobs and income from plaintiffs," the 9-page lawsuit states.
     Rocart produces Nickelodeon "iCarly," "The Thundermans," "Haunted Hathaways" and other shows on the network.
     On Location Education West provides nonunion studio teachers to work on the shows, which feature child actors. The teachers claim that On Location calls them independent contractors to duck paying benefits and payroll taxes.
     According to the teachers, Rocart is a signatory to International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees agreement and a local studio teachers union but unlawfully avoids hiring its members to cut costs.
     Bass, Elster and Stone claim that Rocart has retracted job offers to union teachers and that On Location is usurping their jobs by supplying cheaper labor.
     Using independent contractors, the teachers claim, allows Rocart to duck overtime wages for teachers who work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week, and to duck state and federal payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance and other benefits.
     Seeking restitution, disgorgement and costs, the teachers want a judge to order the defendants to classify studio teachers as employees, and enjoin Rocart from refusing to hire union teachers.
     They are represented by Carol Gillam with the Gillam Law Firm.