The WGA, in its ongoing negotiations with the AMPTP for a new film and TV contract, is calling for the elimination of new-writer discounts and training program rates that have existed for years to encourage companies to hire female and minority directors.
“These discounted minimums, currently found in the Minimum Basic Agreement undercut standards, are counter-productive and send the wrong message: that underrepresented groups are inherently worth less,” the guild said in its latest message to its members about its contract proposals.
The talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers got underway May 18 after the guild’s current contract, which had been set to expire May 1, was extended to June 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s more from the WGA’s latest communiqué:
“For many years, some WGA writers have faced unfair discrimination based on factors that have nothing to do with their writing. Statistics from UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report and other studies clearly show the existence of bias against writers who are women, people of color, people over 55, people in the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities,. Our union exists to protect the wages and working conditions of all members. So the Guild has both the right and the responsibility to take action to protect these writers, targeting specific areas to improve outcomes.
“In this negotiation, we are asking the AMPTP companies to provide the Guild with concrete data about activity in their recruitment, compensation, and retention of writers to better inform our efforts to find solutions. We have made the following specific proposals to support this goal:
“PAY EQUITY: Companies would provide the Guild with regular reports on deals being made, so we can spot inequities as they happen.
“ACCESS: Companies would provide the Guild with regular reports on all writer meetings. Since meetings precede deals, it is important to document who is meeting with whom to understand where systemic obstacles exist.
“TERMINATIONS: Companies would provide the Guild with regular reports on which writers’ options are picked up and which are not, which writers are given a next step and which are not, so we can spot any patterns of bias that need to be addressed.
“COMPANY-BY-COMPANY PLANS: Using information provided in the above reports, the Guild is proposing to hold regular meetings with each AMPTP company to discuss where problems exist and how we can work together to solve them.
“Taken together, these proposals would represent a substantial step forward in obtaining concrete, company-by-company data, and would create incentives for companies to create a more inclusive and equitable industry for all writers.”
In previous communiques, the guild’s negotiating committee has said that it’s advocating for an across-the-board increase in minimum salaries; tiered bonuses for streaming residuals; greater protections for its pension plan; first-ever residuals for theatrical films shown in foreign markets; paid parental leave; and better terms and conditions for comedy-variety writers on subscriber-based streaming shows.
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