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WGA Contract Talks With Studios to Begin Feb. 3

Negotiations for a new three-year deal will begin Monday ahead of the May 1 expiration of the guild's current contract.

The Writers Guild announced Tuesday that it has set Monday, Feb. 3, as the date it will begin formal contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing studios and producers, for a new three-year agreement. The first round of talks will be held at AMPTP headquarters.

The current contract expires May 1.

In related negotiation news, the Directors Guild concluded its deal in November and ratified it Jan. 8. That deal included significant gains: an annual 3% wage increase; increased residuals bases; improvements in basic cable; the establishment, for the first time, of minimum terms and conditions for high-budget new media made for subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services; increased residuals in streaming media; the establishment of a formal diversity program at every major television studio; and improvements in theatrical and television creative rights.

Because of the phenomenon known as "pattern bargaining," the DGA deal is likely to set the template for key elements of the WGA deal. But the latter union has writer-specific issues as well that are likely to be on its agenda.

The last of the above-the-line guilds to negotiate will be SAG-AFTRA, whose contracts expire June 30. Those talks will be complicated by the union's goal to combine its legacy SAG and AFTRA television contracts, which have remained separate despite the unions' merger in 2012. The separate contracts are a proxy for the separate legacy pension and health plans.

Those plans remain unmerged, although the SAG health plan has announced that some form of reciprocity will be offered starting July 1. That move is intended to make it easier for performers to qualify for health insurance, but no details have been announced yet.

The American Federation of Musicians also conducted recent negotiations with the AMPTP in December, but no results of those talks have been disclosed.

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