Striking WGA Sets Weekend Member Meetings


The Writers Guild of America and studios are reportedly nailing down details of a deal that could end a three-month-long strike, with the union set to meet with its members this weekend to discuss the proposed terms.

WGA leaders Monday outlined the main points of a new contract being drawn up to the board of the WGA West, according to Varietyand Los Angele Times, both of which reported that the proposed deal was well-received.

But that tentative agreement, the result of a breakthrough in talks on new-media compensation last Friday, has to be “papered,” or put into a written contract. And sometimes agreements are scuttled over disagreements over a contract’s language.

On Monday, WGA negotiating committee chairman John Bowman told union members there will be “informational” meetings this weekend to discuss the proposed agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

“While we have made important progress since the companies re-engaged us in serious talks, negotiations continue,” Bowman wrote to members. “Regardless of what you hear or read, there are many significant points that have yet to be worked out.”

As for the meetings, Bowman said, “In order to keep members abreast of the latest developments, informational meetings are being planned by both Guilds for this weekend, details to be announced. Neither the negotiating committee, nor the West Board or the East Council, will take action on the contract until after the membership meetings.”

The WGA West membership meeting will take place Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. 

The WGA East, which is holding its 2008 WGA Awards ceremony Saturday night at the Hudson Theatre in Manhattan, has its meeting for 2 p.m. that day at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the borough.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the proposed deal doubles residuals for movies and TV shows that are sold online and grants the WGA jurisdiction for content made for the Internet, above certain budget thresholds. The Times also claims that the WGA deal gets better fees for shows streamed online than the Directors Guild of America got in its new contract with the AMPTP.

According to Variety, the DGA’s contract sets a fixed residual for the first year a movie or show is streamed online, following a brief window for promotional use. For the second year and after, the residual becomes 2% of the distributor’s gross.

The new WGA deal is the same as the DGA contract on video streaming for the first two years, but kicking off in the third year the formula would give writers 2% of the distributor’s gross right after the promotional window ends, instead of a fixed residual for the first year of streaming, according to Variety.

As members await the weekend meetings, they are still out on the picket lines. The WGA East has a picket event set for Friday at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

“As the talks proceed, never forget that during this period it is critical for us to remain on the picket lines united and strong,” Bowman told members. “We are all in this together.”

The WGA has been on strike since Nov. 5.