The Writers Guild of America asked members on Monday to vote in favor of its “pattern of demands,” the broad outline that will guide the union’s position in upcoming talks with the major studios.
The bargaining is set to begin on March 20. The current contract expires on May 1. The union is looking to get better wages and a better deal on residual payments for streaming shows.
The “pattern of demands” also includes addressing “the abuses of mini-rooms,” in which TV seasons are written with fewer writers over a shorter period of time than has traditionally been the case. The demands also include increasing the applicability of “span protection,” in which writers are compensated for extra time to write an episode.
The WGA is also looking to regulate the use of artificial intelligence in the writing process.
An email went to the membership this morning asking for a “yes” vote on the demands. Ballots must be submitted by noon Pacific Time on March 7.
Here, via a source, is the full list of the “pattern of demands.”
COMPENSATION AND RESIDUALS
- Increase minimum compensation significantly to address the devaluation of writing in all areas of television, new media and features
- Standardize compensation and residual terms for features whether released theatrically or on streaming
- Address the abuses of mini-rooms
- Ensure appropriate television series writing compensation throughout entire process of pre-production, production and post-production
- Expand span protections to cover all television writers
- Apply MBA minimums to comedy-variety programs made for new media
- Increase residuals for under-compensated reuse markets
- Restrict uncompensated use of excerpts
PENSION PLAN AND HEALTH FUND
- Increase contributions to Pension Plan and Health Fund
PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND PROTECTION IN THE EMPLOYMENT OF WRITERS
- For feature contracts in which compensation falls below a specified threshold, require weekly payment of compensation and a minimum of two steps
- Strengthen regulation of options and exclusivity in television writer employment contracts
- Regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies
- Enact measures to combat discrimination and harassment and to promote pay equity
- Revise and expand all arbitrator lists
And here is the full text of the email:
The current Minimum Basic Agreement expires on May 1, 2023. As we prepare to negotiate a new MBA, your approval of a Pattern of Demands is a constitutionally-required step in the bargaining process. While the Pattern does not detail specific proposals that will be made during negotiations, it is designed to inform the memberships of our two Guilds of general objectives we will pursue.
We are writing to ask for your support in the form of a YES vote in favor of the Pattern of Demands – the result of a continuing dialogue with our members conducted over the past three years. This Pattern comes to you unanimously recommended by our Negotiating Committee, and by the governing bodies of both Guilds: the WGA West’s Board of Directors and the WGA East’s Council.
The 2023 MBA negotiations takes place in the context of an expanding media industry that remains highly profitable, despite short-term declines in profitability affecting some companies.The broad goal of our negotiating committee will be to build on the gains achieved in past contracts, and to ensure that writers receive their fair share of the proceeds generated by the content they create.
Eligible members may vote online on the Pattern of Demands here. If you have any questions about the voting process, you may contact Jennifer Burt, WGAW Senior Elections Administrator, at (323) 782-4569 or email@example.com. You will continue to receive additional information concerning negotiations in the weeks and months ahead. Additional information about the status of negotiations is available at the WGA Contract 2023 website, https://www.wgacontract2023.org/.
Thank you for your attention to this important step in our negotiating process.
MEREDITH STIEHM, WGAW PRESIDENT
MICHAEL WINSHIP, WGAE PRESIDENT