The WGA West and East and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said today that they will begin formal contract negotiations March 13 at the AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks. The current Minimum Basic Agreement expires on May 1.
As reported here yesterday, the guilds’ chief goals in the talks will be to increase compensation for series TV writer-producers; stop the decade-long decline in screenwriters’ earnings; and stabilize its ailing health fund. Other demands of the WGA East and West include:
· Increase minimum compensation in all areas;
· Increase residuals for undercompensated reuse markets;
· Expand types of made-for new media programs subject to contract minimums;
· Increase contributions to the guild’s Pension Plan;
· Strengthen economic and workplace protections for television and new media writers employed and compensated on per episode basis;
· Strengthen regulation of options and exclusivity provisions in television and new media employment contracts;
· Address inequities in compensation of writing teams employed under term deals for television and new media series;
· Provide paid family leave for writers employed under term deals for television and new media series;
· Amend definition of a professional writer to include writing for new media;
· Increase funding for Showrunner Training Program and Tri-Guild Audit Program
· Modify and expand all arbitrator panels; and
· Modify requirements for work lists and other information submitted by the companies
The Writers Guild of America negotiated a pair of contracts with management’s AMPTP in 2010 and 2013 since its 100-day strike in 2007-08. But if Wednesday night’s informational meeting is any indication, the union definitely is on a strike footing. “It seems that if they took a strike authorization vote tonight, it would be favorable,” one writer told Deadline upon leaving the meeting at the Sheraton Universal. “They were cheering speakers who were in favor of a hard line, and booing those who expressed trepidation.”
WGA leaders were talking tough earlier this month about the looming negotiations for a new three-year film and TV contract. “Getting our fair share will require resolve and solidarity and the willingness to fight if necessary,” they said in a letter to the guild’s members this week. The word “strike” wasn’t mentioned, but it was implied. Suggesting that a showdown might be coming over new media, guild leaders noted that “new models of development, production, and distribution, while making the companies richer, have not worked to your individual or collective advantage.”
WGA West executive director David Young will serve as chief negotiator for the contract talks, and former WGAW president Chris Keyser and current board members Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray will serve as co-chairs. No dates has been set for talks, but the WGA’s current contract expires on May 1.
The DGA recently negotiated and ratified a new film and TV pact that provides for a tripling of residuals from top-tier original streaming shows and set the pattern of bargaining for Hollywood’s other unions.