The Writers Guild of America has responded to recent studio proposals. The organization found that while progress was being made, the offers received were not good enough.

The WGA says progress has been made but will fight on

In an email to its members, the WGA commented on its recent round of discussions with studios and addressed various issues they raised. The WGA stated that the studios are willing to specify the size of the hired TV staff in their contract.

“But the gaps, limitations and omissions in her humble proposal, too numerous to single-point, render her virtually toothless,” the guild explained (via Variety).

When it came to the battle for better movie and TV series residuals on streaming services, the WGA said the AMPTP (the Alliance of Movie and TV Producers) offered to provide streaming viewership data to a handful of WGA employees. This could then be used to develop a proposal for viewer-based residuals.

Earlier this week, the AMPTP released its proposals following a meeting between various studios and WGA leadership. The move was quickly criticized by the WGA, which claimed the AMPTP announced it was doing this to speak directly to WGA members.

The union described the move as “a tactic amid ongoing negotiations” and said it would not negotiate via press releases.

Speaking to Variety, an anonymous author claims that won’t be the case.

“They think the neg com is the problem. They believe there is this alternative WGA that they need to achieve,” said one author, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “That’s not true. The entire membership is pretty much in agreement. We’re willing to wait and see until we get a good deal.”

While the WGA email said “progress has been made,” it appears the two sides are still too far apart to reach an agreement at this time. The strike, which began on May 2, 2023, has now lasted 115 days and is the third longest strike in WGA history, according to the WGA WGA Board Member David Slack.

The full WGA memo, sent to members on August 24, 2023, can be seen below:

During the meeting with the CEOs, we spent two hours explaining that, despite the progress made, the language of the AMPTP offering was, as is typical of this body, a kind of give with one hand and take with the other hand.

We reiterated what we said from day one, that our demands come directly from the members themselves. They address the existential threats to the writing profession and our individual careers, all of which are caused by changes in corporate business models over the last seven to ten years. We emphasized that we could not and would not choose between these threats; that we haven’t gone on strike in almost four months to save ourselves half, nor will we leave any part of this guild vulnerable when we get back to work. We are ready to negotiate in these areas, but a real solution must be found for every existential question.

At the end of the meeting, the companies informed us that they intend to reach out directly to our members by releasing information about their August 11 proposal to the media “within the next 24 hours”. They released a six-page document 20 minutes after the meeting concluded.

This should be seen for what it is, simply a tactic in the midst of ongoing negotiations.

We will not negotiate via press release and therefore will not go into detail about AMPTP’s characterization of the August 11 proposal, but here are some broad lines that may already be discernible:

Many of the current contract points they have proposed — minimum amounts, SVOD residuals, AVOD terms — stem from a deal negotiated with the DGA more than 80 days ago.

Member power – the strike – forced the companies to negotiate on more issues than they were willing to do on May Day, but still in typical AMPTP fashion of seemingly relenting while capping actual profits. Here are some examples of areas where they have made suggestions that are not yet good enough:

  • In the field of film, they have proposed a second step, but only for a statistically small category of screenwriters, excluding all but the first original screenwriters. They rejected the concept of weekly wages.
  • They have ceded selected – but insufficient – minimum terms for some – but not all – Appendix A authors in SVOD. For example, while comedy-variety writers are covered, game show writers, daytime writers, and all other writers in Appendix A are not covered.
  • On TV, companies have introduced the idea of ​​an MBA degree, which guarantees a minimum size and length of staff. But the gaps, caveats, and omissions in her humble proposal, too numerous to list individually, render her virtually toothless.
  • Teams of two authors would receive P&H submissions as individuals. But no teams of three or more people.
  • We’ve had real discussions and seen movements on their part regarding AI protection. But we’re not where we need to be yet. For example, they continue to refuse to regulate the use of our work to train AI to write new content for a film.
  • Finally, the companies say they made a major concession by offering six WGA employees to study limited streaming viewership data over the next three years so that we can ask for viewer-based residuals again in 2026. In the meantime, the WGA cannot tell any author how well their project is doing, let alone obtain a salvage value based on that data.

The companies’ counteroffer is neither nothing nor nearly enough. We will continue to push for proposals that fully address our problems, rather than accepting half-hearted measures like the ones above and others not listed here.

One final reminder illustrates why the AMPTP’s current stance makes no sense. As we have repeated from day one of our first general meeting – and every day of this strike – our demands are fair and reasonable and the companies can afford them. Here are the costs each company is incurring as a result of our demands currently on the table, including increased healthcare funding to deal with the impact of the strike.

Balance that against the cost of not closing a deal: the cost of 11,500 authors; to actors, crews and drivers; to all those working in and around the company who are not on strike; for the economies of California and New York and wherever film and television are produced; to consumers, pension funds and other shareholders; and to the companies themselves. That makes no sense. And everyone but AMPTP knows it.

Over the past 36 hours, members have responded that they are undeterred by this latest tactic. Despite attempts by the AMPTP to bypass us, we remain committed to negotiating directly with the companies. In this way, a deal is actually made and the strike ends. That will be good for the rest of the industry and for companies too.

Until then, see you at the pickets.


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