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Writers Guild Strike Averted Without Fanfare

After seven weeks of keeping the town on edge in fear of a writers strike, negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the conglomerates reached a three-year deal early Tuesday without fanfare.

First word of a deal emerged shortly after midnight, but no official announcement came until after 1 a.m. Instead, a steady stream of smiling negotiators and reps for both sides had begun leaving the offices of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers at the Sherman Oaks Galleria at about 12:45 a.m.

More than three dozen reps departed — all refusing to confirm the deal beyond acknowledging congratulations from the assembled news media reps.

A clearly exhausted WGA West executive director David Young told Variety, “The deal that we made is the art of the possible. We did the best we could. It’s got some important new things in it, and an important old thing: the health plan has been taken care of.”

WGA West president Howard Rodman would not comment other than saying, “I’m looking forward to going to sleep.

Variety first reported shortly after midnight that sources on both sides of the bargaining table said the WGA and AMPTP were closing in on a new contract, averting the threat of a writers strike that could have begun Tuesday.

The sides came to terms shortly after midnight after a marathon day of negotiations that began around 11 a.m. PT. The talks were rocky for most of the day, with sources reporting pessimism about the prospect of the sides reaching a deal just two hours before the midnight PT deadline of the previous contract.

See the guild’s memo to members below.

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.

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