April 26, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Los Angeles, CA – As members of the Writers’ Guild of America voted Apr. 24 on whether to authorize a strike, TV work rules and health care were the main issues.
The union’s 10-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expires May 1. The WGA wants the studios to relax the rule that writers hired to work on a TV show are “held exclusively” to that show, even when they’re not writing—which means that while they’re waiting to see whether the show is going to be continued for another season, they can’t work anywhere else without permission. The union told members in February that writers’ average take-home pay has actually dropped in the last decade or so, as more shows moved to shorter seasons with only 12 or 13 episodes instead of 22, while profits for the six major media companies that own the studios doubled. The union also wants the studios to increase their contributions to its health-care plan, which has run a deficit for the last three years. It projects that deficit will leap to $65 million in 2020, when Obamacare’s “Cadillac tax” provision is scheduled to go into effect. Read more