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WGA Leaders Approve New Contract, Triggering Ratification Vote

Variety logo Variety 5/5/2017 Dave McNary
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Leaders of the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East have approved the tentative three-year successor deal on its master contract with production companies.

The unanimous approvals Thursday night by the WGA West board of directors in Los Angeles and the WGA East Council in New York trigger a ratification vote by the 13,000 eligible members of the guild. The deal, worth an estimated $130 million in annual increases to writers, will go into effect if a majority of members who vote approve.

The tentative agreement, reached early Tuesday morning with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, brought relief to the entire entertainment industry after several weeks of worries that the writers would go on strike — just as they had for 100 days in 2007-08. Negotiations began March 13 and broke off twice. On April 24, the WGA announced that 96.3% of members who had voted had approved giving its negotiators a strike authorization.

Negotiators then bargained for the next week and the tentative agreement was reached late Monday about an hour before the midnight expiration. Variety first reported the tentative agreement had been reached. 

The WGA told members in a message sent early Tuesday morning that the deal contained gains in minimum salaries, contribution increases to the beleaguered  Health Plan that should ensure its solvency for years to come, and further expansion of protections in options and exclusivity riles for TV writers.

“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 guild said.  “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.”

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