WGA members have voted unanimously to ratify a new contract with public broadcasting stations WGBH Boston and WNET New York. The pact also covers guild members employed at KCET Los Angeles, though it did not take part in the negotiations, and at numerous production companies that produce shows for WGBH and WNET.
The new deal increases minimum pay rates, which are also the basis for residuals payments, by 2% retroactive to July 1, 2014, and 2.5% on July 1, 2015. The companies also have agreed to contribute an additional 0.5% to the Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan.
In a statement, the WGA said it represents “the people who write some of the best-known and most compelling programs broadcast on public television, including Frontline, American Experience, Nova and American Masters. Most of the covered shows are produced by WGBH in Boston and WNET in New York.”
The WGA remains on strike against several other public TV stations including KQED San Francisco, WETA Washington, D.C., WTTW Chicago, and WDCN South Carolina. “They are not covered by this contract,” said WGA East spokesman Jason Gordon. “But they are more than welcome to get in touch with us to get off the strike list and to become signatory.”
Gordon said that more than 100 ballots were mailed to guild members, but he could not say how many actually voted. The new pact was negotiated by WGA East but covers members of both WGAE and WGA West. It covers compensation and other terms governing the writing done on covered programs, but most members also perform additional duties on the shows, including producing and directing, and many also raise money through grants and other sources to cover production costs.
“Writers Guild members are utterly essential to the creation of the public affairs and cultural programs that public television viewers enjoy and rely on for thoughtful, informed perspectives on the critical issues of our time,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East. Without our members’ skill, dedication, and experience, the must-see shows on PBS would not get on the air.”
Peterson said the work members perform on public TV shows is “similar to the work of writer-producers in commercial nonfiction television.” The WGAE has recently negotiated collective bargaining agreements covering writer-producers at three nonfiction production companies and is at the bargaining table with two more.