Writers Guild of America leaders are pushing for paid parental leave as one of the demands in the guild’s master contract negotiations with studios.
The WGA’s negotiating committee disclosed its focus on the issue of paid time off for parents in a message sent Thursday to members about the guild’s talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
The guild noted that it secured eight weeks of unpaid parental leave for writers in its 2017 contract negotiations, which went down to the wire under the threat of a strike. That was an unusual provision for freelance workers. This time around, the goal is a paid leave commitment, which has become a quality-of-life issue for progressives and conservatives alike in recent years.
“We have heard from countless writers about how difficult it is to manage work and bonding with a new addition to the family, without any benefits in place for financial security,” the WGA negotiating committee wrote in its email message. “The studios provide paid parental leave to their own employees; it is only fair that writers enjoy the same consideration and security.
“Paid leave would be funded by employer contributions and managed through the Health Fund. The MBA benefit would be coordinated with other income replacement benefits that some states provide in connection with pregnancy and parenting leaves.”
Representatives for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the WGA 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 six messages to members since last week in order to replace the information it would have given out at in-person member meetings. The group is also proposing improvements on minimums and the first-ever foreign box office residuals.
The WGA negotiating committee said Thursday it is also proposing a 12-hour minimum turnaround period for writers and creation of a writer-specific anti-harrassment training program.
“We want to make sure complaints are fully addressed,” the message said. “Writers need to be informed at the time of making a complaint that they have the right to have a Guild representative with them. They need to receive a copy of any report on the outcome of an investigation. We are also advocating for industry-wide third-party reporting to address the ability of harassers otherwise to move from studio to studio unchecked.”