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The Writers Guild of America has issued its pattern of demands, a set of broad priorities that it hopes to tackle in negotiations, to members for its 2023 round of talks.
The sprawling, if vague, list of issues to cover — including standardized fees for features premiering theatrical and streaming platforms and greater regulation of writing performed by artificial intelligence — was sent to members for a vote on Monday, with a deadline of Tuesday, March 7 to submit responses. The WGA’s minimum basic agreement is set to expire May 1, with its first date of negotiations scheduled for March 20.
Items for members’ consideration include compensation asks such as enlarging writer minimums across film, television and new media and setting standard compensation for films, whether they premiere on streaming or theatrically. The Guild seeks to expand span protection so that more writers can avoid seeing their episodic fees decrease when they work for long periods of time on short-order TV seasons, instill MBA minimums for comedy-variety work distributed on new media and regulate “uncompensated use of excerpts.” The Guild further states that it seeks to “address the abuses of mini-rooms” and “ensure appropriate television series writing compensation throughout entire process of pre production, production and post production.”
When it comes to workplace protections, the Guild is seeking to institute weekly payment for feature writers in more cases and require a minimum of two “steps” — another word for various points in a deal in which writers can be compensated — in their deals. The Guild wants to edit arbitrator lists, “regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies” such as ChatGPT and “enact measures to combat discrimination and harassment and to promote pay equity.”
The Guild is also seeking to further shore up its pension plan and health fund.
As The Hollywood Reporter has previously reported, WGA leaders have been holding multiple members meetings in advance of the contract expiration to introduce members to their specific focal points in talks this year, while contract “captains,” volunteers who communicate with groups of members during negotiations, have touched base with some writers. One WGA member who was present at one of these meetings told THR, “Show budgets exploded during the streaming boom but writers’ budgets didn’t. And what I like about the Guild’s approach in this negotiation is they seem fairly laser-focused on changing that.”
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