The United Mine Workers of America protested CBS’s announced plans to produce “The Real Beverly Hillbillies” reality television series during Viacom’s annual meeting, May 21, 2003, in New York. Viacom is the TV network’s parent company.
The protest drew the attention of Viacom president Mel Karmazin, who met for about 20 minutes in advance of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting with Dee Davis, president of Rural Strategies. Accompanying Davis were Rural Strategies’ attorney Bruce Boyens and Cecil Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).
Davis says Karmazin told the group that the network had “no plans” to produce the reality show and that CBS executives will be getting back in touch with them shortly to discuss the status of the proposed program. Davis notes that CBS officials have said in the past that they had “no plans” to produce the show. But in the same breath they said the show is still under consideration.
With the leadership of the UMWA, a steady stream of major labor unions have declared their opposition to the show and sent letters to Viacom and CBS executives. Unions that have joined the alliance against the show are: Association of Flight Attendants; Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union; Communications Workers of America; International Association of Machinists; Kentucky AFL-CIO; Sacramento Central Labor Council; Service Employees International Union; United Mineworkers of America; and the United Steelworkers of America. Their combined membership exceeds 4.5 million.
You can read more about the protest from a story in the May 22, 2003, Washington Post: “Miners Have A Pickax To Grind With CBS” (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23620-2003May21.html).
More information about the campaign can be found on The Center for Rural Strategies Web site: http://www.ruralstrategies.org