Writer-producers at Vox Entertainment have ratified their first contract with the WGA East. The contract, which covers 50 writer-producers and showrunners, “includes many important provisions that should become standard across the industry, like contributions to an industry-wide health care plan, extra pay for extra work, regular pay increases, and important workplace protections,” said Lowell Peterson, the guild’s executive director.
Vox Entertainment, the nonfiction production company affiliated with Vox Media, currently produces Explained on Netflix, No Passport Required with Marcus Samuelsson on PBS and Consider It on Facebook Watch among a growing slate of nonfiction programs appearing on both traditional and new media platforms.
The three-year agreement includes numerous firsts for a nonfiction television agreement, including recognition of showrunners in the unit – mirroring how showrunners are classified in scripted television. The agreement also calls for showrunner feedback to be considered when a show is renewed or during production, especially in regard to staffing and scheduling.
According to the guild, the agreement also “breaks new ground” by setting thresholds on the work week, providing employees with “a clear and sustainable work schedule.” The contract guarantees that, except for showrunners, employees will receive their full day rate when they work a sixth or seventh day and are guaranteed a rest period of eight hours, or six hours during travel, with penalties of $35 per hour for hourly employees and a $100 flat fee for weekly employees.
Additional highlights include a minimum compensation rates set for all positions, with 3% increase after the first and second year, and “strong language to protect journalistic integrity.” It also provides for a $42 traveling per diem and a $50 transportation reimbursement; paid time off after five months of work; 10 days of bereavement leave; the creation of a labor-management committee; just cause for terminations, and a union security provision. Under the new deal, all Vox Entertainment work done under the jurisdiction of the contract will be eligible for Writers Guild Awards.
“This contract is precedent-setting in so many ways, and I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of it, and to work at a company that respects the voices of its employees, including freelancers. Hopefully this is a step forward in raising the floor of this industry,” said Explained showrunner Claire Gordon, a member of the Vox Media Bargaining Committee, which came to a unanimous consensus on ratification.
In addition to Vox Entertainment, the WGA East has collective bargaining agreements with nonfiction television entities Viceland, Optomen Productions, Lion Television, and Sharp Entertainment, and represents writer-producers at ITV’s Kirkstall Road Enterprises and Leftfield Pictures.