In March, staff were told that Ray would shoot the remainder of the season from her New York home on her own and "that displaced crew members would not be paid for the five scheduled shoot days remaining in the season."
This led to a dispute by IATSE, which claimed that the contract it held with the show requires producers to pay workers for remote shoot days which were originally planned. This covers 18 union camera operators, audio engineers and technical crew. They were told they would return to the studio in November, but plans have since changed.
The dispute is heading toward arbitration, according to Variety.
"When COVID-19 forced our studio production to shut down in March, we started shooting Rachael Ray at Rachael’s home out of necessity. As we moved into fall, with COVID cases increasing, we made the difficult decision to continue to shoot the show from Rachael’s home for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, this new format has affected some valued studio crew, including IATSE members. CBS Television Distribution has continued to pay those affected through September and October, and we have reached out to IATSE to discuss mitigation efforts going forward," a spokesperson for CBS told the outlet.
While Ray and IATSE did not provide a comment to Variety, she acknowledged the dispute on Twitter.
"There’s news in the media today that is disturbing to me, and I do not think is accurate. My partners at CBS Television Distribution are currently in an active conversation about how to provide for our show’s format change after November 1st," she wrote.
"It has been my utmost priority that we keep the full contribution to their healthcare plan during this pandemic. I care about my colleagues as family, and as we approach the holidays, we want to keep everyone safe. While everyone is continuing to be paid through October, we will continue to work this out."
The show has been on a season-to-season renewal cycle for several years now. In July, the crew was informed about a renewal and a schedule with shoot days for the next season, which suggested a plan to return to the studio. However, one month later, production executive Kevin Moriarty informed the crew, who he said were "like a family," over a video conference that the show would not return to the studio as soon as they initially planned.
The crew was paid for a full complement of 10-hour shoot days in September and October, but later that month, Moriarty reached back out to tell them that the rest of the season would be filmed form home, and crew who could not work remotely would not be paid for the 39 shoot days that were left.
This came as a big blow to IATSE members as they need to work 400 hours every six months to qualify for health insurance. Season 15’s schedule promised 59 10-hour shoot days.