After reaching a tentative agreement with Hollywood producers on July 1 amid the pandemic, Writers Guild of America members have now voted to approve the new three-year TV/theatrical deal.
The ratification effort was passed with 4,068 votes in favor and 87 votes opposed, the guild said on Wednesday. (The Writers Guild West includes around 10,000 members, while the East branch has 6,000-plus members.)
Guild leadership has touted that the new deal, valued at $200 million over three years, boasts gains in streaming residuals, increased funding for its pension plan and a new paid parental leave fund. The new Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) will run through May 1, 2023.
"This year we faced a unique situation in negotiations because of COVID-19, but despite the challenges posed by the pandemic we achieved gains in a deal that will serve writers’ interests for the next three years," stated WGAW President David A. Goodman and WGAE President Beau Willimon jointly.
The guild leaders added: "We could not have achieved that without a determined negotiating committee led by co-chairs Michele Mulroney, Shawn Ryan, and Betsy Thomas, committed member volunteers, and our professional WGA staff. We thank all writers who contributed to the process and participated in the ratification vote."
During the last MBA approval vote, unveiled in May 2017, there were 3,617 "yes" votes and 30 "no" votes cast from the 9,441 eligible voters in the Writers Guild West and East divisions.
In an email to members on July 1, the Writers Guild's MBA Negotiating Committee said that in its talks with studios this year — which began on May 18 — the guild was "able to fight off significant writer-centric rollbacks."
But negotiators also noted that the film and TV shutdown amid the novel coronavirus pandemic may have cost leverage. "Although the ongoing global pandemic and economic uncertainty limited our ability to exercise real collective power to achieve many other important and necessary contract goals, we remain committed to pursuing those goals in future negotiations," the committee members wrote.
On July 2, the Writers Guild West board of directors and the WGA East council voted unanimously to recommend the deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
The full vote by writers to approve the deal follows SAG-AFTRA's membership voting 74.22 percent in favor to 25.78 percent opposed to ratify its own agreement with the AMPTP on July 22.
The writers' vote may mark another move in solidarity with the direction that guild leadership has taken, which includes its standoff with major agencies. On July 15, the Writers Guild reached a deal with UTA that would allow its members to be represented by the agency. Other major talent firms, including WME, ICM and CAA, have yet to make a deal with the guild.