The Writers Guild of America said in its annual financial report on Wednesday that the total reported 2018 earnings of its 6,000+ members rose 4.2% to $1.56 billion.
The increase in total earnings for 2018 marks the fifth straight year of earnings growth for the guild’s membership. And the report comes as the WGA and some of its members find themselves in intensifying legal disputes with the Hollywood agencies that the guild says have shirked fiduciary duty and engaged in antitrust practices as they’ve help writers gain employment.
Total earnings for the reported 4,830 guild writers in TV and digital platforms increased 3% last year to $1.07 billion, which according to the WGA was due more opportunities in the space and increases in the guild’s minimum requirement under its collective bargaining agreement.
For Hollywood screenwriters, of which 2,040 reported to the WGA, total earnings rose 7.2% to $481 million.
The earnings of writers in the WGA is important in its ongoing dispute with the Association of Talent Agents and Hollywood agencies. The guild has said that the conflicts of interest that arise from agencies packaging deals often hurts the pay of the writers.
The crux of the dispute between the WGA and ATA is in regard to packaging — agencies pulling together talent in different areas for a project and presenting it to a studio — and specifically the fees that agencies collect for doing so.
In its report, the WGA reassured its membership that the guild remains in good financial standing, saying that its operating surplus — used in the case of a strike or work stoppage — was $10.1 million at the end of the 2018 fiscal year.
“The Guild remains financially strong, with growing revenues and a healthy operating surplus,” the WGA wrote in its report. “This year’s report continues the trends recorded over the last half-decade … We publish this financial information each year in the interest of transparency and a fully informed membership.”
The guild reported that revenue for the year was $42.9 million, up from $39.2 million in the year prior. That increase, the WGA said, was the result of growth in overall employment and writer earnings, which was led by the TV and new media sectors, as well as investment gains from a strong equities market.
The guild also reported total net assets of more than $77.5 million.