The bump received by members of the Writers Guild of America, West and East in their recent negotiation was enough to forestall a strike, but the union was less than overwhelmed by the package.
“Did we get everything we wanted? No. Everything we deserve? Certainly not,” a memo from the WGA negotiating committee reads. “But because we had the near-unanimous backing of you and your fellow writers, we were able to achieve a deal that will net this Guild’s members $130 million more, over the life of the contract, than the pattern were expected to accept.”
The deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is a three-year package that includes gains on what many writers called the most important matter on the table, the issue of short seasons in television. The contract calls for members to be paid for 2.4 weeks of work per episode, with any work beyond that resulting in additional payments.
According to the memo, the agreement also includes gains in minimums “across the board” as well as contribution increases to the WGA health care plan that are expected to keep it solvent.
Writers would also receive a 15 percent increase in pay-TV residuals, a roughly 15 percent increase in high-budget subscription video-on-demand residuals, and residuals for comedy-variety writers in pay TV – a first for the guild, according to the memo. The WGA also secured another first-time addition to its contract with producers: job protection for members on parental leave.
The deal came after guild members overwhelmingly backed a strike if a deal could not be reached. Miranda Banks, an associate professor of visual and media arts at Emerson College’s Hollywood campus, said the show of solidarity probably helped drive the deal.
“What I think this will do moving forward is give members a sense of confidence in their union,” she said.
– Diane Haithman
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