It’s contract renegotiation time!
Specifically, it’s that time when the Writers Guild of America sits down with the Association of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) and tries like hell to make our TV, film, and other electronic media writing lives happier, healthier, and more fulfilling.
In other words, we’re looking for ways to be more productive and creative and make more $$$.
This week we’ll be bringing you the full text of the latest missives from the Writers Guild of America negotiating committee on the Guild’s position regarding more issues of importance to TV (and film) writers.
work-life balance issues
We want to inform you about some key benefits we are seeking to make it easier for writers to balance the demands of family and work, and to be able to count on a workplace free of harassment.
PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: Three years ago, we secured up to eight weeks of unpaid parental leave for writers in the MBA. The provision was the first of its kind in a guild freelance agreement. This time around, we seek a paid benefit for new parents, including foster and adoptive parents.
We have heard from countless writers about how difficult it is to manage work and bonding with a new addition to the family, without any benefits in place for financial security. The studios provide paid parental leave to their own employees; it is only fair that writers enjoy the same consideration and security.
Paid leave would be funded by employer contributions and managed through the Health Fund. The MBA benefit would be coordinated with other income replacement benefits that some states provide in connection with pregnancy and parenting leaves.
TURNAROUND PERIOD: Writers’ rooms that regularly run long hours with no limits are detrimental to all writers, and disproportionately impact those with families. We propose a 12-hour minimum turnaround period for writers. This is modeled on other union and guild contracts that include turnaround periods to protect their members’ health, safety and quality of life.
HARASSMENT: The studios are responsible for providing a safe and harassment-free workplace. However, even after the exposure of high-profile predators in our industry, many writers feel the current system does not provide adequate protection for them. We propose to work with the studios to create a writer-specific program designed for our unique workplaces, including training for those in senior positions who work with writers and support staff.
But training is not the end of it. We want to make sure complaints are fully addressed. Writers need to be informed at the time of making a complaint that they have the right to have a Guild representative with them. They need to receive a copy of any report on the outcome of an investigation. We are also advocating for industry-wide third-party reporting to address the ability of harassers otherwise to move from studio to studio unchecked.
VACATION FOR DAYTIME WRITERS: Daytime writers work year-round and face a daunting delivery schedule to meet the need for an endless flow of scripts. We are proposing to decrease the number of years they must work to qualify for a third week of vacation.
In this negotiation, we need protections to make our workplaces safer, as well as friendlier to a better work-life balance for all writers.
MBA Negotiating Committee
Michele Mulroney, Co-Chair
Shawn Ryan, Co-Chair
Betsy Thomas, Co-Chair
Ashley Nicole Black
Dante W. Harper
Melissa London Hilfers
Lauren Ashley Smith
Patric M. Verrone
David A. Goodman, Ex-Officio
Marjorie David, Ex-Officio
Beau Willimon, Ex-Officio
Kathy McGee, Ex-Officio
Bob Schneider, Ex-Officio
Tomorrow: Part 6