October 3, 2008
To My Fellow Members,
Our Guild is engaged in a labor dispute with Tyler Perry’s production company, House of Payne, LLC. Earlier this week, four of the writers on its TBS sitcom House of Payne, who were actively seeking Guild representation, were abruptly fired in violation of federal labor law. A fifth writer has since left the show in solidarity.
The Guild has been negotiating with House of Payne since April. Unfortunately, the company has refused to accept reasonable contract proposals, including payment of residuals. A few weeks ago, the writers, some of them WGAW members, were told by Mr. Perry himself: “Be careful about pushing the WGA deal or you could be replaced.” This warning, the subsequent terminations, and the company’s bad-faith bargaining, are all illegal. Accordingly, we have filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB.
House of Payne is an incredibly successful program. According to TBS, the second episode was basic cable’s all-time No. 1 sitcom telecast. House of Payne has generated $200 million in license fees from TBS for 126 episodes and recently sold into syndication on ‘MyNetwork’ for a reported additional $100 million. The House of Payne actors are covered under a Screen Actors Guild contract, and Mr. Perry, who has directed every single episode to date, is covered under a Directors Guild contract. However, House of Payne is one of the only scripted shows on TV that isn’t covered under a WGA contract.
The four terminated House of Payne writers and WGAW staff are right now in Atlanta, preparing to picket the opening of Tyler Perry’s new studio starting tomorrow. They will be joined by Atlanta-area WGAE members, some WGAW members who are leaving L.A. tonight, members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and other supporters. We are asking guests invited to Tyler Perry’s grand opening not to cross our picket line in a show of solidarity with the fired writers.
Many of our fellow members have already responded to media coverage of this injustice with messages of support, asking how they can help. If you would like to show support for these writers, you can send a message to Tyler Perry by clicking here. In the meantime, Guild members are reminded that under Working Rule 8, members of the Writers Guild of America, West may not accept employment with any non-signatory entity, including Tyler Perry studios and all of its related entities. The guild intends to fully enforce this important policy.
Thanks for your attention and your support.
Patric M. Verrone