Writers Guild of America Negotiates Contract With Film Studios, Television Networks
Months after formal negotiations were halted, representatives for the Writers Guild of America on Wednesday reached a $58 million contract agreement with film studios and television networks that would increase the studios' and networks' contributions to WGA's health care fund, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the proposed three-year contract, the 12,000 television and film writers who are members of WGA would receive an additional $37 million from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for the guild's health care fund, as well as increased pension contributions, higher minimum payments and more money for made-for-TV program writers.
The writers have been working without a contract since May 2. In June, the guild broke off formal negotiations with the studios and networks, partly in anticipation that the Directors Guild of America, which also was in negotiations with the studios, would "make headway" on another key contract issue -- DVD profit shares -- and allow writers to "piggyback on any agreement," the Times reports. However, DGA last month opted to seek expanded health care benefits rather than concessions on DVD profits.
According to WGA president Daniel Petrie, DGA negotiators "believed that the studios would not give on DVDs without a lengthy strike or possibly with a lengthy strike."
John McLean, executive director of WGA's Western office, said the "health care numbers sucked the money out of this deal," making increased DVD payments difficult to negotiate. However, he added, "As a negotiator you always have to look at the whole package and how much money and what the priorities are. Health care covers everybody in the guild."
Members of the WGA must ratify the contract for it to take effect, as planned, Nov. 1 (Munoz, Los Angeles Times, 10/14).