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DEAL!! WGA Details Gains After Post-Deadline Accord Averts Strike

Deadline logo Deadline 5/2/2017 David Robb
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UPDATED with WGA statement, details of deal: After a day of twists and turns, Hollywood has dodged a bullet. A threatened writers strike was averted early this morning when the WGA and management’s AMPTP reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year film and TV contract after the old contract had expired at midnight PT.

The deal now goes to the WGA West’s board and the WGA East’s council for approval, and then to the guilds’ members for ratification.

In a statement from the WGA negotiating committee (read it in full below), the guild said writers 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.

We 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.”

In all, the WGA said the deal will net the guild’s members “$130 million more over the life of the contract.”

A short email that was sent out to union captains after the deal was reached says “more details to follow,” and that there will be a May 4 meeting at WGA headquarters with the negotiating committee to go over the agreement.

The AMPTP was expected to release a statement shortly.

“It’s the art of the possible. We did the best we could,” said the WGA’s chief negotiator David Young, coming out of the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks offices close to 1 AM Tuesday after an all-day and all-night bargaining session. “It’s got some important new things in it, and an important old thing: the health plan has been taken care of.”

Said Patric Verrone, former WGA president and member of the negotiation committee: “I think they made a very good deal. I think the membership is going to be very happy.”

The news comes after negotiations continued past the three-year film and TV contract’s midnight PT expiration. But sources on both sides said they were close on a new agreement, with the continuing talks proving “constructive.” By 12:45 AM, people inside and around the building were seen embracing and smiling.

“It was a hard night, but we knew it would be,” a source close to the studios told Deadline of the hours leading up to the early-morning deal.

It’s a major victory for the guilds, their leadership and their members, who made it abundantly clear over the last few months that they were ready and willing to strike if they didn’t get what they wanted – a fair deal.

It’s also a big win for late-night talk and comedy shows, which would have been the first to feel the brunt of a writers’ walkout. It’s also a big win for their viewers, who won’t be subjected to a steady diet of Trump jokes written by interns and production assistants.

It’s a win for the networks and advertisers, too, in advance of their upfronts, which get underway May 15 and deals can now be made without the uncertainties of a strike clouding the picture.

Hollywood can now breathe a collective sigh after holding its breath ever since contract talks began March 13 amid a flurry of strike threats. But it’s only a temporary breather. Negotiations for a new SAG-AFTRA contract will get underway later this month, and the industry could be in for another round of apnea.

Here’s the WGA’s full 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.

We 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.

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.

That result, and that resolve, is a testament to you, your courage, and your faith in us as your representatives.

We will, of course, provide more details in the next few days. But until then, we just wanted to thank you – and congratulate you. Your voices were indeed heard.

Your 2017 Negotiating Committee

Chip Johannessen, Co-Chair

Chris Keyser, Co-Chair

Billy Ray, Co-Chair

Alfredo Barrios, Jr.

Amy Berg

Adam Brooks

Patti Carr

Zoanne Clack

Marjorie David

Kate Erickson

Jonathan Fernandez

Travon Free

Howard Michael Gould

Susannah Grant

Erich Hoeber

Richard Keith

Warren Leight

Damon Lindelof

Glen Mazzara

Alison McDonald

Jonathan Nolan

Zak Penn

Luvh Rakhe

Shawn Ryan

Stephen Schiff

David Shore

Meredith Stiehm

Patric M. Verrone

Eric Wallace

Beau Willimon

Nicole Yorkin

Howard A. Rodman, WGAW President, ex-officio

Michael Winship, WGAE President, ex-officio

David A. Goodman, WGAW Vice President, ex-officio

Jeremy Pikser, WGAE Vice President, ex-officio

Aaron Mendelsohn, WGAW Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio

Bob Schneider, WGAE Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio

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