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Studios Snubbed WGA’s Contract Proposal To Boost Women & Minority Writers

Deadline logo Deadline 5/13/2017 David Robb
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EXCLUSIVE: The WGA made no major gains in its new film and TV contract regarding diversity, which the guild has been pushing for years. “There was a proposal related to diversity on the table,” an industry source said, “but the guild did not get it.”

The union did, however, receive additional funding for its training program for episodic TV writers, which is geared toward improving the lot of women and minority writers. Under the new deal, CBS, ABC and NBC will now be kicking in a total of $250,000 a year for the program in each of the three years of the contract – up from $200,000 a year under the previous contract.

The new 69-page memorandum of agreement can be seen here, in full, for the first time. Membership ratification of the new pact began today and will conclude May 24.

In its 2016 report, the WGA West found that women made up only 29% of the TV writers; that female film writers earned only 68 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts; and that only 7% of films, and 13% of TV shows, were written by minorities.

The contract’s non-discrimination clause – known as Article 38 – provides that “there shall be no discrimination due to sex, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity, color, creed, national origin or disability,” and that in accordance with this policy, the companies agree and reaffirm to continue the “policy of such non-discrimination in employment of writers hereunder.”

Under Article 38, which remains in effect, the studios also agree “to explore with the guild’s Equal Employment Officer new affirmative action programs to increase employment opportunities and the availability of writing assignments for writers in the ‘protected classes,’ as defined in this Article, in the fields of television and theatrical motion pictures. In addition, each company will designate one or more high level creative, production or programming executives to meet on an individual company basis at least once per year with members of the WGA West and WGA East, who have been designated by the board of directors of WGA West and council of WGA East.”

The companies’ reps the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers did not comment when contacted about the diversity proposal.

The new contract does include major gains for writers employed on short-order TV series; a bailout of the WGA’s ailing health plan; and more residuals from high-budget SVOD programs, similar to those won by the DGA in its recent contract negotiations.

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