WGA Sends Studio Deal to Members

The ratification vote will take place in April, before the existing contract's May 1 expiration.

The WGA deal reached last weekend now moves to the membership for a ratification vote, the guild announced Friday. Specifically, the WGA West board and WGA East council voted unanimously to send the tentative deal out to the guilds’ combined membership.

The vote will be conducted by mail and at membership meetings in April. The WGA did not disclose the dates of those meetings. Ratification is expected. The existing contract expires May 1.

The new accord with the AMPTP follows the pattern set by deals in the last few months with the actors and directors. According to a letter last weekend 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.