The new contract between the Writers Guild of America and producers includes a boost in the minimums for writing work, a promise to negotiate new residual rates for basic cable and foreign TV work within two years and a recommendation that $20 million be allocated for a unique boomer retiree health coverage plan.
The new contract, which expires in 2001, was reached this week, nearly nine months before the previous Writers Guild contract was due to expire. Negotiations were among the guild, which mostly represents film and TV writers, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers as well as the three major networks--NBC, CBS and ABC.
Agreeing on a new contract marks another case in which the guild and producers have successfully settled their differences early in the wake of a 1988 writers strike.
Other agreements in the contract include faster arbitration procedures in residual disputes and an agreement to consider changes that would enhance a writer's right to use a pseudonym.
Writers will also be able to "bank" payments allocated for their health benefits so they can use them in years when they don't work. In addition, those selling scripts on speculation will be eligible for health benefits.
One of the more unique parts of the contract is the so-called boomer health fund. It is a recommendation by the guild and producers to trustees of the guild's health fund that $20 million be allocated to make sure that the large number of writers in the baby boom age will have health benefits when they get older.