×

Writers Guild Members Working Near Contract Minimum Wage, Despite Record Employment Growth

The Writers Guild of America revealed Tuesday that although employment numbers are rising for members, compensation is dramatically behind.

“While record numbers of members are currently employed, individual writer compensation is not where it should be, with too many members working at or close to minimum,” the WGA West told its members from president David A. Goodman, VP Marjorie David and secretary-treasurer Michelle Mulroney. The updates come ahead of Minimum Basic Agreement contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The current three-year deal expires May 1, though no talks have been set.

“Our MBA focus must be to ensure that writers are being fairly compensated for the global value of the content that has continued to bring banner profits to our employers, and that our benefit plans remain healthy,” the message reads.

The guild’s eight-month standoff with the major Hollywood talent agencies has heightened worries that the WGA will go on strike after the contract expires. The WGA required on April 13 that members fire their agents if the agents had not signed a Code of Conduct, which bans agents from taking packaging fees and prohibits agencies from owning production affiliates.

In a promising sign, the letter added that WGA West members employment are reaching peak levels similar to 20 years ago, reporting that 1,000 screenwriters collected over $100 million in earnings each quarter.

“This level of employment and earnings has been sustained for two years now, a change from the period in 2012-14 when quarterly employment in features was typically around 700 writers,” the message continues. “Television employment remains at its highest level in history: there have been more than 4,500 members working in TV for the last five years and counting, now approaching 5,000, with more than 350 scripted series in production for each of the last three seasons.”

The WGA is required to seek approval of its “pattern of demands” before meeting with the companies. WGA West executive director David Young, who orchestrated the bitter 2007-08 strike, will serve as chief negotiator. Mulroney, Shawn Ryan and Betsy Thomas are the co-chairs.

Tuesday’s message to members concluded that the negotiating committee will meet Tuesday night and review members’ responses to its recent survey. The message added, “In January, the membership will have the opportunity to vote on a Pattern of Demands, and following that, member meetings will be convened for the Committee to lay out initial proposals and get feedback.”

More Film

  • Janicza Bravo attends the LA Premiere

    Why 'Zola' Filmmaker Isn't Sweating the Sundance Premiere

    Writer-director Janicza Bravo is a officially Sundance veteran. “Zola” is her second feature to premiere and her fourth time showing work at the festival. And as a such, she’s taking all of the buzz around her film — based on the 148-Tweet stripper saga that went viral in 2015 — in stride. “I can’t wait [...]

  • Best Picture - 'Green Book'91st Annual

    Film vs TV? In Truth, They've Been Married for 70 Years

    In a prescient Variety column in 1978, reporter Jim Harwood talked about the blurring distinction (artistic and technical) between film and television. He wrote: “Is a ‘motion picture’ any less of an accomplishment if it’s beamed from Hollywood directly to a wall-sized screen in somebody’s home instead of being hauled in cans to something called [...]

  • Miss Americana Taylor Swift

    17 Buzziest Movies at Sundance, From Taylor Swift to Gloria Steinem

    Sundance Film Festival isn’t just a market for independent movies and a place to discover new talent — it’s also a barometer of current moods. In 2020, an election year, it’s not always easy to separate politics from art — and maybe it shouldn’t be, not at Sundance. Hillary Clinton will visit Park City to [...]

  • Emma Tillinger Koskoff

    'Irishman' Producer on Mega-Production Schedule: 'It Was Pretty Insane'

    The numbers for “The Irishman” are staggering: 108 shooting days, 117 locations, 319 scenes, 160 actors, in a story spanning 50 years. “I must say, it was no small feat,” laughs Emma Tillinger Koskoff, who is Oscar-nominated for the film, as well as for “Joker.” “Irishman” is the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) [...]

  • Richard Curtis

    Wealthy Celebrities Call For Higher Taxes in Open Letter From World Economic Forum

    A group of wealthy celebrities and business people have signed an open letter calling on fellow billionaires and millionaires around the globe to support tax increases in an effort to alleviate growing economic disparity. Released on Thursday to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the letter states: “There are two kinds of [...]

  • Bombshell Movie

    Filmmakers Work to Reframe the 'Male Gaze'

    In the opening shot of Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” (2003), Scarlett Johansson is lying on a bed, back to the camera, shown in partial view, wearing underpants. In Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) a banged-up Ryan Gosling stares up at a bone-thin, enormous nude projection of a woman. More recently, Jay Roach’s “Bombshell” [...]

  • Actress Annabella Sciorra (R) arrives to

    Time's Up Lauds Accusers Testifying at Weinstein Trial: 'We Are In Awe of These Women'

    Time’s Up, the anti-sexual harassment advocacy group launched by Hollywood celebrities, commended the women taking the stand at Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial, which is currently underway in New York City. The group released a statement on Thursday morning, shortly ahead of the day in court, which is expected to see testimony from “The Sopranos” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content