Writers strike averted

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Some will attribute it to Mercury moving out of Retrograde — a time frame usually frowned upon for signing contracts. Others may say it was the fear of what the 2008 walkout brought — the rise reality TV and, eventually, 45.

Whatever the reason, the WGA and the AMPTP found a mutual ground early this morning, reaching a tentative agreement and averting a walkout by 13,000 writers which would have crippled the entire film and TV industry coast-to-coast.

In a statement to members, guild leaders said the agreement provides gains in minimum pay as well increases in contributions to the union’s health plan that “should ensure its solvency for years to come.”

The three-year contract also provides for a 15% increase in pay-TV residuals, job protection for paternity leave and residuals for comedy-variety writers who work in pay TV.

The sides seemed far apart until AMPTP made some significant concessions over the weekend.

On Sunday, the alliance bumped up its offer to the WGA’s health plan, making a “substantial increase” to the $60 million offered in the alliance’s previous proposal, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to comment.

The alliance also addressed some chief guild concerns about the length of TV seasons and exclusivity clauses, which prevent many writers from working on more than one show per season.

The shrinking TV season, accelerated by the move toward streaming, has reduced earnings for writers. The new contract provides additional pay for writers affected by shorter TV seasons.

“We also made unprecedented gains on the issue of short seasons in television,” guild leaders told members. “Did we get everything we wanted? No. Everything we deserve? Certainly not. 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,” it concluded.

LA-Based Colin Costello writes for film, TV, advertising and of course, Reel Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.

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