Under the terms of the agreement, which were announced on April 9, WGAE-ABC employees will receive wage increases of at least 2% per year in each year of the contract. The first increase will be retroactive to April 12, 2010. In addition, for the first time, the contract provides a substantial minimum salary and enhanced severance package for writers who produce shows for WABC-TV, as well as a training stipend for WABC-TV newswriters if any are laid off because of a change in the seniority list (no such layoffs are in the works). Several other payments to members, including the promo/continuity availability fee and acting editor fee, have been increased. In addition, the WGAE gave ABC greater flexibility in work assignments in return for improved job security protections for any members who might be affected.
“We are happy to have secured a contract for that provides our members with wage increases and innovative job protections and happy they have overwhelmingly ratified this contract,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “Our members’ ratification of this contract ensures that they will remain integral to ABC News’ success as the broadcast news business transforms in the coming years.”
“News and information delivered with accuracy and perspective have never been more vital to the survival of our democracy. With that as an underlying principle, our negotiating committee worked diligently on behalf of their fellow members at ABC News. Collaborating with our executive director Lowell Peterson and the Guild East staff, their perseverance and knowledge achieved a contract that protects the membership, recognizes our ABC News members’ proven value and skills and upholds the principles of journalism that are so challenged in the current media landscape,” said Michael Winship, WGAE president.
ABC News employees also have expressed their support of this contract publicly. “At a time of great uncertainty for our industry, I believe this contract represents an important step toward insuring that WGA-represented writers will continue to have a significant role in broadcasting’s future, at both the local and network levels,” said Al Wasser, writer for World News with Diane Sawyer and former head writer for Good Morning America.