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Writers Guild of America and studios to begin contract talks

March 1, 2011 |  7:05 pm

Hollywood's film and TV writers will begin negotiations with the major studios on a new film and TV contract this week.

The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced in a joint statement that talks on a new three-year contract would begin Thursday. The guild's current contract expires May 1.

The WGA's previous negotiations culminated in a 100-day strike that ended in early 2008, primarily over how writers are paid for work distributed across new media. This time around, the guild aims to pursue more traditional union priorities, such as increases in wages, improved working conditions and higher contributions to the union's health and pension fund.

Unions representing Hollywood's actors and directors recently secured new contracts with the studios that provided modest pay bumps and increases in their health and pension plans.

WGA negotiators also want to curb cost-cutting practices, such as "sweepstakes pitching," when multiple writers are pitted against one another for jobs, and "one-step" deals, in which writers are paid for the first draft of a script and are no longer offered a fee for subsequent drafts, as they had been in the past.

The guild's 14-member negotiating committee will be chaired by John Bowman, the comedy writer who led the previous negotiating committee, and veteran screenwriter Billy Ray. WGA West Executive Director David Young and guild president John Wells will also lead the negotiating team. 

-- Richard Verrier

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