On Wednesday afternoon, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) fought off “significant writer-centric rollbacks” and reached a deal with the major studios on a new contract, potentially avoiding a WGA strike that befell the entertainment industry in 2007. According to the union, the three-year, $200 million dollar deal includes higher residuals for writers with shows distributed on streaming platforms, a new paid parental leave for all writers who qualify for health insurance, as well as increased employer contributions to the union’s pension plan. Negotiations between the union and the studios ended on Tuesday evening and the proposed deal was approved by the union’s negotiating committee on Wednesday. However, the agreement won’t be official until ratified by members of the WGA, which the committee recommends.
Negotiations began virtually on May 18 led by David Young representing the WGA and Carol Lombardini representing the studios. Both sides agreed to extend the existing contract for two months to June 30, allowing more time for talks to continue during the global pandemic. Per the Los Angeles Times, streaming revenue, which has more than doubled in the last four years to $37 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $62 billion in 2023, was a major point of discussion. “We are seeking to significantly increase the foreign residual so that it accurately reflects the value of our work in the foreign market,” the WGA said to its members as many streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon have more international subscribers than domestic customers.
“Although the ongoing global pandemic and economic uncertainty limited our ability to exercise real collective power to achieve many other important and necessary contract goals, we remain committed to pursuing those goals in future negotiations,” said the WGA’s negotiating committee. The deal as is also improves protections for television writers in both options and exclusivity as well as expands the number of writers covered under protections that limit the amount of time writers can spend working on individual episodes, which has been a priority for the guild as shows continue to move to shorter seasons on streaming platforms.