Writers Guild inks bargaining goals for upcoming contract talks

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The union representing Hollywood’s writers is beginning to script its upcoming contract negotiations with the major studios.

The Writers Guild of America on Wednesday sent to more than 10,000 members its so-called ‘pattern of demands,’ the bargaining goals that members will vote on by Jan. 24. The demands set the framework for film and TV contract negotiations with the studios, expected to begin early next year. The guild’s current contract expires May 1.

The Writers Guild’s previous negotiations culminated in a 100-day strike, primarily over how writers are paid for work distributed across new media. This time around the guild aims to pursue more traditional union priorities, such as increases in wages, improved working conditions and higher contributions to the union’s health and pension fund.

Hollywood’s actors and directors unions recently secured new agreements with the studios that provided significant increases in their health and pension plans.


Guild negotiators also want to curb cost-cutting practices, such as ‘sweepstakes pitching,’ when multiple writers are pitted against one another for jobs, and ‘one-step’ deals, in which writers are paid for the first draft of a script and are no longer offered a fee for subsequent drafts, as in the past.

‘Your sacrifices during the last negotiation and the WGA’s 100-day strike led to historic advances in the areas of new media residuals and jurisdiction over writing for new media,’' the union’s leaders said in a letter to members. ‘While there is no such single galvanizing issue in the current negotiation cycle, this does not mean there is a lack of important objectives to be achieved in the upcoming negotiations.’

The guild also named a 14-member negotiating committee that will be chaired by John Bowman, the comedy writer who led the previous negotiating committee, and veteran screenwriter Billy Ray.

-- Richard Verrier