WGA Strike Has a Happy Ending

Posted by Olivia Grady on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 at 3:50 pm - Permalink

By Olivia Grady

On April 13, 2017, I published an article on the Center for Worker Freedom’s website about a possible upcoming Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike by film, television, radio and other media writer union members. The WGA’s Executive Director, David Young, had written a letter to media buyers on April 4, 2017, announcing that writers would go on strike on May 2, 2017.

The guild was demanding a $178 million per year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television producers, and the union also wanted its Health Plan to be saved from $145 million in deficits over the next four years. Some of what the union wanted would have cost entertainment companies $100 to $125 million each year of the agreement.

On April 14, 2017, the majority of the union’s members voted to authorize a strike that would have started on May 2, 2017.

Writer-actress Lena Dunham said that she supported the strike:

“I would never have had the health coverage I had without the union, and that’s one of the main points in this,” Dunham said at the Met Gala on Monday night.

Actress Debra Winger agreed with Dunham, but cautioned against the damage done by a strike:

“I’m thinking of all the businesses that I work with at Warner Bros. for several months out of the year and (the) restaurants, shoe repair, dry cleaners,” Winger said during an interview promoting her new film, “The Lovers.” ”The last writers’ strike affected the city of Los Angeles in a devastating way.”

Thankfully, on May 2nd, a tentative deal was reached, and a strike that would have harmed the California economy was averted. The main issues during the negotiations were compensation and health care.

The producers’ spokesman Jarryd Gonzales and the guild confirmed a three-year agreement.

The WGA’s statement about the deal on its website said:

Did we get everything we wanted? No. Everything we deserve? Certainly not. But because we had the near-unanimous backing of you and your fellow writers, we were able to achieve a deal that will net this Guild’s members $130 million more, over the life of the contract, than the pattern we were expected to accept.

The announcement also says that the union was able to raise minimums across the board, obtain contribution increases to the Health Plan, expand protections in Options and Exclusivity, win a definition of 2.4 weeks of work for each episodic fee with additional fees for work beyond that, increase Pay TV residuals by 15 percent, get job protection on Parental Leave and other benefits.

However, specific details of the agreement are not available yet.

One problem facing this industry is the introduction of platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon. Another problem is that the TV shows have shorter seasons; this means less pay for the writers.

Because of the new agreement, upcoming TV seasons and late night shows will continue as planned, but union members still have to agree to the deal.