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WME is joining fellow major talent agencies in responding to the #PayUpHollywood movement by increasing assistant pay, as well as introducing a few new benefits for the group.
WME and Endeavor Content are raising minimum assistant pay in Los Angeles, Nashville and New York from $15 an hour to $18 an hour, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. After an assistant’s first-year anniversary, that pay will be raised to $20 an hour. The agencies are additionally planning on increasing the minimum salary to $20 an hour by August 2021.
Under the new pay structure, assistants will also be eligible for 10 hours of overtime — on which many entry-level Hollywood employees survive — without pre-approval and will be considered for “discretionary bonuses.”
Per the agencies, the changes were planned to be announced sooner than July — competitors Verve, CAA, ICM and UTA raised their assistant pay in late 2019 and early 2020, respectively — but were delayed by COVID-19, which has dealt a financial blow to talent agencies at large. In March, an initial round of layoffs at Endeavor affected around 250 staffers who could not work remotely, including WME temp mailroom workers, THR reported. In May, WME said it would lay off or furlough 20 percent of its employees. Other changes to staff policies, first announced in a companywide memo last week, include that assistants will now be eligible for two years of monthly medical premiums paid by the company and that assistants and coordinators will be eligible for student loan relief after their first ($1,000) and second ($2,000) work anniversaries with the company. Coordinators and desk-bound assistants at both companies will also be able to avail themselves of a $50-a-month stipend for personal phone use reimbursement.
The companies are also now inserting assistant names into assistant email addresses, which previously were nameless.
In a statement about the WME changes, #PayUpHollywood co-founders Liz Alper and Deirdre Mangan said, “While #PayUpHollywood is not privy to the contents of the WME email that was sent, the initial news announcing pay increases and additional benefits for support staff is heartening. We encourage WME to continue monitoring support staff workload and treatment to ensure the wellbeing of their most vulnerable employees. We look forward to the details of these initiatives and congratulate WME on joining the growing ranks of entertainment companies committed to improving pay and work conditions for support staff. It is proof that change, though slow, does happen, as long as allies and assistants continue speaking out.”
The $18 to $20 per hour rate has become the new normal for assistant pay since the #PayUpHollywood movement erupted on social media last year: ICM has the highest starting rate, at $20 an hour, followed by Verve at $18.50 an hour and CAA at $18 an hour.
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