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Hollywood’s Writers Won’t Go on Strike After All

Following nearly two months of negotiation, the Writers Guild of America has reached an agreement with Hollywood’s major studios on health care and wages.
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Members of the Writers Guild of America rally outside FremantleMedia North America to call attention to conditions for writers on December 7th, 2007.

Members of the Writers Guild of America rally outside FremantleMedia North America to call attention to conditions for writers on December 7th, 2007.

Early this morning, just minutes after the end of International Workers’ Day, the nation’s screenwriters and their bosses came to a tentative agreement on a new three-year labor contract. The agreement — which still needs to be approved by the East and West boards of the union overseeing film and television writers, the Writers Guild of America — allows the groups to narrowly skirt a writers’ strike, Deadline reports. The previous contract between the groups expired on May 1st. Last month, over 96 percent of voting WGA members voted to strike if a new contract had not been agreed upon by last night.

The WGA has been negotiating a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers since mid-March, but AMPTP reportedly resisted acquiescing to the union’s demands until a strike became imminent. The WGA particularly wanted wage increases and solvency of its health-care plan.

In a celebratory statement released after last night’s tentative agreement, the WGA touted increases to residual payments for subscription broadcast and streaming and subscription on-demand TV work and said, “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.”

The new plan includes pay guarantees that specifically address the trend of shorter TV seasons, which have been a recent source of instability for young writers. The plan is also the first WGA-AMPTP agreement to ever secure job protection upon return after parental leave.

You can read the WGA statement below:

Dear Colleagues–

Your Negotiating Committee is pleased to report that we have reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP that we can recommend for ratification.

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.

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.

We will, of course, provide more details in the next few days. But until then, we just wanted to thank you — and congratulate you. Your voices were indeed heard.