Strike averted as WGA agrees ‘tentative’ deal

Scripted-logo-460_2HollywoodThe Writers Guild of America (WGA) has struck a “tentative” deal with Hollywood’s film and TV producers that averts the threat of a strike.

News of a potential deal dribbled through this morning (GMT), before the WGA released a letter to members confirming an agreement.

With the previous contract having ended on May 1, writers would have stages a walkout if a deal with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers had not been reached.

That won’t be the case, however, after terms were thrashed out. The agreement must be ratified by WGA members, but the strike is almost certainly off.

Significantly, the parties have come to an agreement relating to networks’ appetite for shorter run series, which have become increasingly popular as cable TV influences broadcast drama and comedy programmes.

Writers will now be paid 2.4 weeks’ work for each episodic fee, meaning a ten-episode season will pay will be at similar levels to longer, 20+ episode seasons.

Broadcasters and studios will be liable for additional payments for “any work beyond that span” for “hundreds of writer-producers”.

The new agreement will also increase writers’ pay TV residuals by 15%, high budget subscription VOD residuals by US$15 million, and – for the first time – result in residuals for comedy-variety writers working in pay TV.

There are also gains on healthcare and parental leave.

Overall, union leaders claim this will result in WGA writers netting US$130 million more “than the pattern we were expected to accept” over the course of the contract.

They thanked members for for faith shown in them as negotiators, saying: “Your voices were indeed heard.”

The Hollywood writers strike of 2007-08 completely shut down Hollywood for 100 days.


The WGA letter in full


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