The Writers Guild of America will begin negotiations on a new contract on March 20, as the industry holds its breath in anticipation of a possible strike.
The current three-year agreement is set to expire on May 1. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced the date of the talks, making the WGA the first of the three above-the-line guilds to enter bargaining.
“The AMPTP is fully committed to reaching a fair and reasonable deal that brings strength and stability to the industry,” the industry group stated.
The WGA declined to comment, other than to confirm the date.
The WGA is focused on increasing basic wages and streaming residuals, as well as fighting back against smaller writers rooms. Many within the union see the shift to streaming as an existential issue, as writers have traditionally depended on broadcast residuals to sustain a middle-class existence.
The last WGA strike, in 2007-08, revolved around gaining compensation for use on “new media.” That trend has only accelerated since then.
The guild has been holding informational meetings with its members over the last couple of weeks, and is expected to issue its “pattern of demands” soon, which will spell out its goals for the new contract.
The Directors Guild of America had previously said it would hold off on negotiations, allowing the WGA to go first. That’s a departure from the traditional order, in which the DGA usually goes first and strikes an agreement that the studios then seek to apply to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA.
The DGA and SAG-AFTRA contracts are due to expire on June 30.