The WGA West’s legal and claims department during the past year has collected more than $30 million in unpaid residuals and other payments owed to film and TV writers – more than all the dues paid by the guild’s members last year. The department is the guild’s chief mechanism for enforcing the WGA’s contract, and it pursues violators relentlessly through grievances and arbitrations. The largest single legal settlement came from Lionsgate, which paid the guild $388,378 in May 2013 to resolve contract disputes, according the guild’s 2013 fiscal report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. 20th Century Fox Film Corp paid more than $300,000 in legal settlements, followed by Walt Disney Pictures & Television ($170,000-plus), NBC Studios ($130,000), ABC Television ($116,000), MGM/UA ($69,000), Paramount ($58,000), Warner Bros ($48,000) and Universal City Studios ($19,000). But only about a third of the arbitrations and grievances the guild filed during the past year were against major or mini-major companies.
The WGA’s filings with the DOL list page after page of legal settlements it’s reached with more than 100 smaller production companies. Collecting unpaid residuals for writers produced the biggest legal settlements. The WGA legal department during the past year collected more than $20 million in unpaid residuals, plus another $2.7 million interest for late payment of those residuals, which combined is far more than the guild’s 21,195 members paid in dues last year. The legal department collected another $5 million in initial compensation that was owed to writers, plus more than $500,000 in interest, more than $1 million in unpaid contributions to the guild’s pension and health plan, over $100,000 in interest and nearly $500,000 in penalties for violations of the WGA contract’s credits provisions.