WGA Members Overwhelmingly Approve Pattern Of Demands For Upcoming Contract Talks

As expected, WGA members have voted overwhelmingly to approve a Pattern of Demands for the guild’s upcoming film and TV contract negotiations, which are set to begin March 20.

The combined vote of the WGA West and the WGA East was 5,553-90 (98.4&-1.6%). The WGA’s current contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers expires May 1 amid growing concerns about a possible writers strike.

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By comparison, the vote to approve the Pattern of Demands three years ago was 3,028-308 (90.7%-9.3%). The latest vote is also in line with the balloting for the demands that ultimately lead to the WGA’s 100-day strike in 2007-08, when 96% of the members voted to approve them.

The Pattern of Demands, which are required by the guilds’ constitutions, are a list of general goals for the negotiations and are shaped by member surveys, conversations with members and research on the media industry. A yes vote on the demands had been unanimously recommended by the WGA’s Negotiating Committee and by the WGA West’s Board and the WGA East’s Council.

Here is the complete Pattern of Demands, broken down into three categories:

Compensation and Residuals:

  • Increased minimum compensation significantly to address the devaluation of writing in all areas of television, new media and features.
  • Standardized compensation and residual terms for features whether released theatrically or on streaming.
  • Address the abuses of mini-rooms.
  • Ensure appropriate television series writing compensation throughout entire process of preproduction, production and post production.
  • Expand span protections to cover all television writers.
  • Apply MBA minimums to comedy variety programs made for new media.
  • Increased residuals for under compensated reuse markets.
  • Restrict uncompensated use of excerpts.

Pension Plan and Health Fund:

  • Increase contributions to pension plan and health fund.

Professional Standards and Protection in the Employment of Writers:

  • For feature contracts in which compensation falls below a specified threshold, require weekly payment of compensation and a minimum of two steps.
  • Strengthen regulation of options and exclusivity in television writer employment contracts.
  • Regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies.
  • Enact measures to combat discrimination and harassment and to promote pay equity
  • Revise and expand all arbitrator lists.

In a recent message to members urging them to approve the Pattern of Demands, WGA leaders wrote that the upcoming contract talks will take place “in the context of an expanding media industry that remains highly profitable, despite short-term declines in profitability affecting some companies. The broad goal of our negotiating committee will be to build on the gains achieved in past contracts, and to ensure that writers receive their fair share of the proceeds generated by the content they create.”

In a bulletin posted last week that took a closer look at the WGA’s campaign to win WGA coverage of new media and streaming residuals that resulted from the 2007-08 strike, the WGA said: “Despite their pattern of catastrophic predictions, the studios have successfully monetized every major modern technological advancement to not only stay afloat but thrive. Along the way, they made vague promises that key players like writers would get their fair share at some point. If history has taught nothing else, it has shown that with each new technological advancement within the industry, the real risk is that writers, and other talent, will not receive equitable compensation for the reuse of their work.”

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