- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2017

Leaders for the Writers Guild of America, the union representing television-show writers, have approved a three-year contract, Variety reported Thursday night.

“The unanimous approvals Thursday night by the WGA West board of directors in Los Angeles and the WGA East Council in New York trigger a ratification vote by the 13,000 eligible members of the guild,” Variety said. “The deal, worth an estimated $130 million in annual increases to writers, will go into effect if a majority of members who vote approve.”

Barring an unexpected rejection of the deal at a ratification vote of the membership, a feared writers’ strike now seems unlikely.

WGA officials hailed the deal for increased pay and benefits that writers should see under the terms of the new work contract, Variety said.

In the unlikely event WGA writers reject the newly struck deal, the most immediate impact for television viewers would be late-night comedy programs, with joke writers on the picket line instead of drafting monologues and comedy skits, likely prompting producers to either go with reruns.

And while May marks the traditional end of the broadcast television season, the advent of streaming video services particularly makes the prospect of a work stoppage of heightened concern to Hollywood watchers. After all, the last work stoppage, which lasted 100 days, was in 2008, before the rise of scripted original programming for streaming services like Amazon and Netflix.

Indeed, spreading the wealth from the streaming video on demand (SVOD) bonanza was one complaint of the WGA, and union leaders believe they’ve made significant progress on that front.

“We won a 15% increase in Pay TV residuals, roughly $15 million in increases in High-Budget SVOD residuals, and, for the first time ever, residuals for comedy-variety writers in Pay TV. And, also for the first time ever, job protection on Parental Leave,” said the WGA in a statement, according to Variety.

“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.”

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