Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have told the major studios that they need to improve their practices on diversity and inclusion as part of the guild’s negotiations on a new master TV and film contract.
“For many years, some WGA writers have faced unfair discrimination based on factors that have nothing to do with their writing,” the WGA negotiating committee wrote in a message to members.
“Statistics from UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report (Film, TV) and other studies clearly show the existence of bias against writers who are women, people of color, people over 55, people in the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities. Our union exists to protect the wages and working conditions of all members. So the Guild has both the right and the responsibility to take action to protect these writers, targeting specific areas to improve outcomes.”
The negotiating committee disclosed its focus on the issue in a message sent Friday to members about the guild’s talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Representatives of the WGA and AMPTP are facing a June 30 expiration of the current film and TV contract. Talks began last week on a remote basis due to the coronavirus pandemic after two start dates were vacated. The committee has sent out seven messages to members since last week, including demands for parental leave, foreign box office residuals, and higher streaming residuals.
“In this negotiation, we are asking the AMPTP companies to provide the Guild with concrete data about activity in their recruitment, compensation, and retention of writers to better inform our efforts to find solutions,” the WGA message said.
Specific proposals include companies providing the Guild with regular reports on deals being made; regular reports on all writer meetings; regular reports on which writers’ options are picked up and which are not, which writers are given a next step and which are not.
“Using information provided in the above reports, the Guild is proposing to hold regular meetings with each AMPTP company to discuss where problems exist and how we can work together to solve them,” the message said. “Taken together, these proposals would represent a substantial step forward in obtaining concrete, company-by-company data, and would create incentives for companies to create a more inclusive and equitable industry for all writers.”