DEAL: WGA, Major Studios Reach Agreement at Eleventh Hour

Labor News

Writers Guild of America members, writers: Ronald Moore, left, and Joss Whedon, right, unpack thousands of pencils as they prepare to deliver half-a-million fan donated pencils to NBC Universal Chief Executive Officer and President Jeff Zucker, in a campaign by fans to demonstrate support for writers of striking series outside the NBC Studios in Burbank, California, on December 11, 2007. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Reprinted from Variety by  and  on May 2, 2017.

It went down to the wire, and a little beyond, but the Writers Guild of America and major studios came to terms on a new contract early Tuesday, defusing the threat of a strike crippling the film and television business.

The sides shook hands shortly after midnight, minutes after the previous contract expiration deadline passed. The WGA had vowed to strike Tuesday if a deal was not in place. After a long week of negotiating sessions, including a Sunday gathering and a marathon run on Monday that began at 11 a.m., the guild and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers clearly found enough common ground at the eleventh hour to sidestep the disruptive force of a work stoppage.

“Your Negotiating Committee is pleased to report that we have reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP that we can recommend for ratification,” the WGA told members in a memo early Tuesday.

“In it, we made gains in minimums across the board – as well as contribution increases to our Health Plan that should ensure its solvency for years to come. And we further expanded our protections in Options and Exclusivity.

We also made unprecedented gains on the issue of short seasons in television, winning a definition (which has never before existed in our MBA) of 2.4 weeks of work for each episodic fee. Any work beyond that span will now require additional payment for hundreds of writer-producers.”

The memo added that the guild “won a 15% increase in Pay TV residuals, roughly $15 million in increases in High-Budget SVOD residuals, and, for the first time ever, residuals for comedy-variety writers in Pay TV.” “And, also for the first time ever, job protection on Parental Leave,” it went on.

“Did we get everything we wanted? No. Everything we deserve? Certainly not. 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 we were expected to accept,” it concluded. …

Variety 5/2

 

Reprinted from The Hollywood Reporter by Jonathan Handel on May 2, 2017.

Talks between the Writers Guild of America and AMPTP studio alliance went down to the wire Monday night but ultimately resulted in a three-year deal, averting a threatened walkout that could have cost jobs and homes, hit the California economy with a $200 million blow per week, accelerated cord-cutting and driven audiences off linear channels and onto digital platforms.

David Young, executive director of WGA West, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that a deal had been reached. Leaving the closed door meetings, Patric Verrone, who was WGA president last time the guild went on strike in 2007-2008, told THR it was a good deal for the writers. Michael Winship, president of Writers Guild East, echoed Verrone’s comments and added that the union effectively mobilized the membership with the authorization. …

The Hollywood Reporter 5/2

 

Reprinted from Deadline Hollywood by  and  on May 2, 2017.

Here’s the WGA’s statement:

May 2, 2017

Dear Colleagues–

Your Negotiating Committee is pleased to report that we have reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP that we can recommend for ratification.

In it, we made gains in minimums across the board – as well as contribution increases to our Health Plan that should ensure its solvency for years to come. And we further expanded our protections in Options and Exclusivity.

We also made unprecedented gains on the issue of short seasons in television, winning a definition (which has never before existed in our MBA) of 2.4 weeks of work for each episodic fee. Any work beyond that span will now require additional payment for hundreds of writer-producers. …

Deadline Hollywood 5/2

 

Reprinted from The Los Angeles Times by David Ng, Meg James and Ryan Faughnder on May 2, 2017.

“We were very sympathetic to them on all of their issues,” said one high-level executive who was not authorized to comment on the negotiations. “It wasn’t the studios who did this to the writers, it was just that the world had changed.”

As the demand for content has grown in the “golden age” of quality television, writers have seen their stature in the industry rise, though not their compensation. Writers complained that their incomes had been eroded by the move toward shorter TV seasons on shows like Amazon’s Bosch and Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black. Many TV scribes are paid per episode and are constrained by their contracts from working on more than one series per season.

“Studios knew there had to be some give because they’re making a ton of money and it’s really a great period for TV,” said John Eisendrath, writer and executive producer for The Blacklist. “There’s this weird disconnect between how well the business is doing and how well writers are doing.” …

LA Times 5/2

About Jeffrey Burman 1870 Articles

Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

UA-83546600-1