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The Writers Guild of America’s members have spoken, and they are supporting their union’s objectives for the 2023 round of contract negotiations.
In a vote over the union’s “pattern of demands” this year — a list of general priorities leaders would like to address in its negotiations with studios and streamers — 98.4 percent of the union was in favor, while 1.6 percent voted against, with 5,643 members voting in total. These figures represent an uptick in member engagement and approval of priorities compared with the 2020 round of negotiations, when 3,336 members voted and 90.7 percent supported that year’s pattern of demands.
2023’s pattern of demands called out “mini-rooms,” use of excerpts without compensation and material written with the assistance of artificial intelligence as being in need of further regulation. The list also prioritized raising minimum compensation, setting standard rates for films, expanding span protection (which defends TV writers from seeing the value of their episodic pay decline if series production stretches on for a long time), supporting health and pension plans and setting MBA minimums for comedy-variety work on new media as guild objectives this cycle.
The WGA will enter negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on March 20, weeks before its film/TV contract expires on May 1. The union’s assistant executive director Ellen Stutzman will lead the talks for labor after former chief negotiator David Young took a medical leave of absence starting Feb. 28, while AMPTP president Carol Lombardini will be heading up the representation for employers.
This year’s round of negotiations is expected to be pivotal for writers, some of whom say that middle-class writers are increasingly finding it harder to make a living in 2023’s streaming-dominated industry landscape. The guild’s last round of negotiations, in 2020, arrived right after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and WGA members are hoping to make up lost ground this time around.
Beyond voting on the guild’s general “pattern of demands,” WGA members have also been providing feedback on some more in-depth negotiating priorities that have been unveiled at recent member meetings. In those meetings, setting some kind of minimum staff size on television series was positioned as a potential “hill to die on,” for the writers, as The Hollywood Reporter has previously reported.
An additional member meeting for both East and West Coast branches of the guild is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15.
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