Writers Guild Sends Proposed Contract to Members for Ratification

WGA West and East leaders recommend approval of new 3-year deal for primetime TV and feature films

The Writers Guild sent its proposed new contract with Hollywood TV and film producers to its members Tuesday for ratification.

WGA West President Chris Keyser and WGA East President Michael Winship said in a letter to the Guild’s membership that the boards of the union’s two wings have approved the new three-year deal for primetime TV and feature film and unanimously recommended ratification.

The WGA and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached a tentative agreement last week. The current pact runs out on May 1.

Also read: Why Hollywood Actors’ Contract Talks Could Get Rocky

Members can approve or reject the contract by voting online, by mail (after requesting a paper ballot) or at membership meetings in New York and Los Angeles on April 29.

Here’s the email:

To Our Fellow Members,

We are writing to give you notice of your right to vote on ratification of the 2014 Minimum Basic Agreement. The ratification materials-including a summary of the terms of the agreement and a letter urging ratification from Negotiating Committee Chairs Billy Ray and Chip Johannessen-may be accessed by clicking on the following link: https://eBallot4.votenet.com/wgamba. This year, ballots may be cast online, by mail (for those requesting a paper ballot) or at membership meetings in New York and Los Angeles on April 29, 2014. Please visit the members-only section of the Guilds’ websites for more information: www.wga.org or www.wgaeast.org.

We vigorously support ratification of this contract. It comes with the unanimous recommendation of the Negotiating Committee, the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council, and while it is not all that we hoped for –no contract ever is– in key areas writers have made significant gains:

Minimum compensation increases over three years of 2.5%-3%/-3%.
“Outsized” increases of 5%-5%-5% for most high budget one-hour basic cable series.
A .5% increase (to 8.5%) in Pension Plan contributions.
An increase in the Internet streaming residual and a shortening of the free streaming window.
The first ever minimums for high budget subscription video on demand services such as Netflix and Amazon.
A doubling–from $5000 to $10,000–of the feature script publication fee.
A brand new provision, imposing limits on the types of option and exclusivity requirements that a Company may negotiate with episodic television writers who earn less than $200,000 per season.

The fact that this agreement was reached without a strike does not mean that it was without struggle. You will recall that we wrote you in late January to alert the membership to the fact that the Companies had placed $60 million in rollbacks on the table, mostly in the areas of pension and health benefits. Not only were we able to force those rollbacks off the table, we achieved groundbreaking regulation of options and exclusivity agreements, an issue of critical importance to many television writers.

A union’s power to achieve a just contract is always rooted in its members’ resolve and dedication. We wish to thank the negotiating committee and all of you who participated in the outreach meetings, surveys, and committees that helped to formulate our proposals for these negotiations. We would also like to recognize the community of writers that works day in and day out to make us a vital part of the entertainment industry. We endorse this proposed contract and encourage you to vote for its ratification.

In Solidarity,
Chris Keyser
President, WGA West
Michael Winship
President, WGA East