An ongoing negotiation between the Writers’ Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has been building for months, threatening all of us with reruns and shoe string late night TV productions. It looks like things may have been resolved, to the benefit of the viewing public.
There had been anticipation of a strike to begin in May, but The Washington Post reports that it was narrowly averted by a last minute deal on Tuesday. The previous contract between the WGA and AMPTP was to expire at midnight PT. But the a new contract isn’t exactly set in stone, per a statement released by the WGA:
The Writers Guilds of America, West and East and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have concluded negotiations and have reached a tentative agreement on terms for a new three-year collective bargaining agreement.
Both organizations held a media blackout during negotiations, so details are minimal, but talks have largely been around compensation and healthcare. Compensation is a particular hot button topic, as the increase in prestige shows has resulted in shows with shorter runs but without commensurately increased compensation.
In it, we made gains in minimums across the board – as well as contribution increases to our Health Plan that should ensure its solvency for years to come. And we further expanded our protections in Options and Exclusivity.
We also made unprecedented gains on the issue of short seasons in television, winning a definition (which has never before existed in our MBA) of 2.4 weeks of work for each episodic fee. Any work beyond that span will now require additional payment for hundreds of writer-producers.
We won a 15% increase in Pay TV residuals, roughly $15 million in increases in High-Budget SVOD residuals, and, for the first time ever, residuals for comedy-variety writers in Pay TV.
And, also for the first time ever, job protection on Parental Leave.
While extreme, a strike is an extremely effective way for union writers to negotiate for new terms. The Associated Press reports that the strike in 2007-2008 cost Los Angeles county $2.5 billion. It also significantly shortened Season 3 of Supernatural, and the show has been all angels and demons ever since. Thank goodness another such crisis has been averted.