By Dave McNary Variety May 1, 2020 6:48 pm PT
Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are seeking several improvements in the rapidly evolving world of television work in the WGA’s master contract with Hollywood studios, sources have told Variety.
Representatives of the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers were not immediately available for comment. The two sides exchanged proposals Friday in advance of starting negotiations remotely on May 11 and are facing a June 30 contract expiration.
The key issues for the WGA include:
— Improvement on the payment structure for junior writers in “Mini rooms,” which are small groups of writers working on a few series scripts in lieu of a produced pilot.
— Improvement in streaming residuals for made-for-subscription video on demand, or SVOD, and reuse. This was a key gain in the agreement ratified last month by members of the Directors Guild of America.
— Gains in the way “span” work-term issues are calculated and compensated for writers working long stints on limited series with fewer episodes and the expectation that talent can be contractually bound for longer than usual time frames for shows that may produce only 6 to 12 episodes per season rather than the traditional 22 episodes. This was a key issue in the 2017 negotiations.
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*Headline photo selected by Mr. McNary for his Variety article
— Pension and Health plan contributions. In mid-April, WGA West Executive Director David Young, the guild’s lead negotiator, raised the issue of easing eligibility for health insurance for members who would lose their coverage later this year and called the AMPTP “despicable” when its president, Carol Lombardini, said that she would need to consult with the studios. That led to speculation that the dispute could derail the May 11 start of talks but the WGA notified its members on April 30 that negotiations would proceed as planned.
The WGA negotiations may be potentially complicated by the fact that SAG-AFTRA began its master contract negotiations with the AMPTP on April 27 — also on a remote basis. The performers union contract also has a June 30 expiration.