Leaders of the Writers Guild are talking tough in advance of their upcoming negotiations for a new 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.
To put its case for a fair contract in context, WGA’s leaders noted that “the $49 billion annual operating profit accumulated by the six major media companies with whom we will be negotiating is double what their profit numbers were only a decade ago.”
By contrast, they said, the average incomes of members of the WGA East and West from films and series television “have actually decreased over that same decade. … And contrast the companies’ prosperity with the state of our Health Plan which, due to rapid inflation in health care costs nationwide, has run deficits for all but one of the past four years, forcing a dip into long-untouched reserves.”
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.”
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.
WGA West executive director David Young will serve as chief negotiator for the upcoming talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, 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 guilds past two contract negotiations in 2010 and 2013 ended without a strike. Its last strike lasted 100 days in 2007-08.