WGA Members Ratify New Contract With Studios

Now, the writers’ strike is officially over.

Ninety-three percent of the members of the Writers Guild in New York and Los Angeles  voted to approve a new three-year contract.

The union said 4,060 votes were cast on the two coasts. The new contract is retroactive to Feb. 13 and will last until May 2, 2011. The contract extends union jurisdiction over new- media applications; gives writers separate rights and provides for residual payments for that new media; and establishes a “distributor's gross” as the basis for calculating new-media residual shares. The WGA went on strike last Nov. 5.

West coast president Patric Verrone called the contract a “new beginning” for writers in the digital age.

“It ensures that guild members will be fairly compensated for the content they create for the Internet and it also covers the reuse on new media platforms of the work they have done in film since 1971 and in TV since 1977,” he said in a statement. “That's a huge body of work that will continue to generate revenue for our members for many years to come as it is distributed electronically.”

For its part, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers issued its own statement about the ratification: “The members of the Writers Guild of America have ratified their new labor agreement. Now that our industry is back in business, our goal is to collaborate with everyone in the industry -- writers, directors, actors and stagehands alike -- to produce the highest-quality entertainment products without any further interruption.”

Now that the WGA and the Directors Guild have each ratified contracts, the next Hollywood union challenge is negotiating a new pact with the Screen Actors Guild. In a statement to members on Feb. 13, Doug Allen, SAG's chief negotiator said SAG is meeting with members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, discussing issues such as wages and working conditions. Those joint talks won't end until March, according to the statement.