The steady stream of scripted television will continue: The Writers Guild Of America isn’t on strike. In the wee hours of the morning, the WGA and the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers reached a tentative contract agreement. “Did we get everything we wanted? No. Everything we deserve? Certainly not,” members of the Writers’ negotiating committee wrote in a statement to members, via Deadline. ”But because we had the near-unanimous backing of you and your fellow writers, we were able to achieve a deal that will net this Guild’s members $130 million more, over the life of the contract, than the pattern we were expected to accept.”
Among the topics addressed in the deal were the matter of the the guild’s health plan, as well as the manner in which television writers’ jobs have changed as TV seasons have gotten shorter. As a lengthy piece in Variety explains, the issue at hand was that writers weren’t being fairly paid for their work on, say, 13-episode shows—the elite Peak TV series that critics tend to fawn over—compared to the old school 22-episode runs. Take it from David Simon, who told Variety: “The construct of the contract has for too long been lodged in the 22-episode, September-to-May framework,” adding, “Two weeks of work on an episode has stretched into four to six weeks. There needs to be a new framework.”
After the agreement, the negotiating committee wrote: “We also made unprecedented gains on the issue of short seasons in television, winning a definition (which has never before existed in our MBA) of 2.4 weeks of work for each episodic fee. Any work beyond that span will now require additional payment for hundreds of writer-producers.” According to Deadline, the next step is approval from the board and council of the WGA West and East, respectively, and then ratification from members.