×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Writers Guild of America Members Ratify New Three-Year Contract

Members of the Writers Guild of America have ratified nearly unanimously their new three-year successor deal on the guild’s master contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Only 30 members voted “no.” Of the 3,647 valid votes cast, there were 3,617 “yes” votes (99.2%) and 30 “no” votes (0.8%). There were 9,441 eligible voters. The term of the agreement is retroactive to May 2 through May 1, 2020.

The WGA reached the deal on May 1 about an hour before the previous contact expired in down-to-the-wire negotiations.

“Our success in these negotiations was due to a highly engaged and dedicated membership, working in tandem with a tireless and informed Negotiating Committee and an extraordinary Guild staff. We achieved new and significant gains that will help today’s writers even as they benefit the next generation,” said WGA West president Howard A. Rodman and WGA East president Michael Winship. “Our thanks go out to all of those who contributed to the process and to the thousands of our fellow writers who participated in the strike authorization and ratification votes.”

The WGA said Thursday that gains achieved in the new contract include safeguarding the solvency of the Health Plan, a new formula for increasing compensation for writers on short seasons, expansion of the limitations on options and exclusivity, increased residuals for made-for-pay TV programs and programs made for high budget subscription video on demand, and, for the first time ever in a WGA contract, a provision guaranteeing parental leave.

The negotiations between the sides were rocky from the start on March 13, breaking down twice. The WGA achieved significant changes in the compensation structure for short-order TV series, forcing the studios to recognize the financial strain for TV writers as the industry norm has shifted to shows with six-13 episodes per season rather than the broadcast norm of 22-24.

Over the course of the talks, the companies sweetened their offers on several contentious issues, including the writers’ health fund, and the compensation formula and short-order series issue that became known by the short-hand of “span.”

Hollywood’s fears of a strike were amped up last month when the WGA secured a whopping  96.3% “yes” vote by members authorizing their leaders to strike. The WGA repeatedly pointed to its calculation that the six major entertainment conglomerates generated $51 billion in operating profits during 2016 — including that figure in an April 28 message to members, estimating that it would cost employers $156 million annually to increase payments to writers under its proposal to production companies.

If the WGA had walked out, it would have been the guild’s seventh strike since 1960. The most recent strike was an acrimonious 100-day work stoppage, fueled by the WGA’s demand for new media residuals and jurisdiction. That strike started Nov. 5, 2007, and ended Feb. 12, 2008.

The WGA notified members on May 5 that the new deal included an $86 million hike in funds from employers for the guild’s troubled health plan. The guild’s summary said minimums will increase 2.0% in the first year of the contract, 2.5% in the second year, and 2.5% in the third year. And one of the key provisions, agreed to near the end of the negotiations, included the first-ever parental leave coverage of up to eight weeks.

The WGA had disclosed during during negotiations that its health plan had been losing money in recent years and issued a projection of a $65 million deficit in 2020.

The May 5 summary said the new deal will make the plan solvent. It said employer contributions to the fund would increase from 9.5% of writers’ gross compensation to 10.5% at the start of the agreement, then increase to 11.0% in the second year and to 11.5% in the final year — resulting in a total of $65 million in additional contributions. The guild also agreed to make cost savings of $7 million per year for the health fund, which has $150 million in annual spending.

More TV

  • YouTube TV

    YouTube TV Expanding to Cover Entire U.S., No International Launch Plans Right Now

    Soon, virtually anyone in the U.S. will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV, Google’s $40 monthly over-the-top internet television service aimed at cord-cutters. First launched in five cities in April 2016, YouTube TV has been available in the top 100 markets in the U.S., covering around 85% of households, for about a year. Starting [...]

  • NATPE: Turner Latin America, Dopamine Set

    NATPE: Turner Latin America, Dopamine Strike Three-Series Production Alliance (EXCLUSIVE)

    MIAMI — Turner Latin America and Mexico’s Dopamine, a Salinas Group company, have struck a production alliance to develop and produce three original series: “Tu parte del trato,” “Amarres” and “Coyatl.” The pact adds to the NATPE announcement on Monday of “Las Bravas F.C,” the first series in Turner Latin America’s five-year strategic production partnership [...]

  • Pol-ka at 25: Interview with Founder

    Pol-ka at 25: Adrian Suar Sets New Era Agenda

    MIAMI — Boldly taking on the challenges of TV’s future as it turns 25, Argentina’s Pol-ka Producciones, one of Latin America’s few historic independent TV companies, is turning to the past. Shooting from Jan. 2, but set in Buenos Aires from 1936 to 1945, “Argentina, Land of Passion and Revenge,” (“Argentina, Tierra de Amor y [...]

  • Pol-ka at 25: Highlights on its

    Pol-ka at 25: 2019’s Production Slate Highlights

    MADRID — Pol-ka’s banner titles straddle telenovelas and international-length series. Here are highlights, projects, productions and shows now screening packing one of the most ambitious slates of any Latin American company: ‘ARGENTINA, LAND OF PASSION AND REVENGE’ (Pol-ka) The big one, at least for free-to-air. A period piece, so far more expensive to shoot, so rarer [...]

  • NATPE Briefs: 'Judge Jerry' Sets EP,

    NATPE Briefs: 'Judge Jerry' Sets EP, Sony Pictures Pacts With 'Ugly Betty' Creator

    NBCUniversal’s “Judge Jerry” has set its production team and reached 90% clearance across the U.S. for its fall launch. The court show hosted by longtime talk show host Jerry Springer will be exec produced by Kerry Shannon, previously a producer on “Jerry Springer Show.” Leah Ponce and Joe Scott, alums of “Judge Judy” and other [...]

  • Tamron Hall Brings Her Truth and

    Tamron Hall Brings Her Truth and TV Training to Daytime Talk Show

    MIAMI — Tamron Hall is proud of her TV trifecta. For a few years, the former “Today” anchor could be found most weekdays airing on three networks at the same time. During her 2010-2016 tenure as a co-anchor of “Today’s” 9 a.m. hour, Hall would follow that show by switching to an anchor slot on [...]

  • Meredith Vieira Back in Syndication Game

    Meredith Vieira Back in Syndication Game With '25 Words or Less'

    MIAMI — Meredith Vieira is stocking up on stationary. The former “Today” anchor and panelist on “The View” is set to return to daytime TV in the fall as host of the syndicated game show “25 Words or Less,” from Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television. Vieira is a 15-time Emmy winner who has worked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content