WGA, AMPTP Reach New Three-Year Deal

The tentative pact, which is in line with deals reached by SAG, AFTRA and the DGA, provides for 2% annual wage increases but also freezes network primetime residuals at current rates.

In the end, the WGA bowed to the inevitable, reaching an accord Sunday with the AMPTP that follows the pattern set by deals in the last few months with the actors and directors.

According to a letter from the WGA to members, the new three-year deal provides for 2% annual wage increases and a one-time 1.5% increase in employer contributions to the guild's pension plan.

SAG, AFTRA and the DGA received 2% annual increases also, and a one-time increase in employer contributions to pension and/or health plans.

The writers' deal also includes a 20% increase in pay TV residuals -- i.e., the residuals payable when a pay TV show such as Showtime's Dexter is rerun on pay TV. That gain is less dramatic than the percentage may suggest, however, since those residuals are a small, fixed amount, in contrast to more lucrative formulas provided in the directors and actors agreements.

In a move that the letter acknowledged as "a concession," the new agreement provides that network primetime residuals will be frozen at current rates for the duration of the contract. Such a move is unusual; primetime residuals usually increase when minimums do.

Like the other unions, the WGA also accepted a shift from first-class air travel to new rules favoring business class and coach.

The WGA does not appear to have achieved any significant improvement in workplace conditions (such as issues related to "sweepstakes pitching") or new media.

The tentative deal came after just over two weeks of negotiation. The WGA negotiating committee meets Monday to forward the pact to the WGA West board and WGA East council for approval, and then to the membership. The current guild agreement expires May 1.

The AMPTP had no comment.

The WGA negotiating committee is co-chaired by John Bowman and Billy Ray and includes Alfredo Barrios, Andrew Bergman, John Brancato, Patti Carr, Jonathan Fernandez, David A. Goodman, Chip Johannessen, Damon Lindelof, Ron Moore, Jeremy Pikser, Shawn Ryan, Thania St. John, Stephen Schiff and Mike Scully.