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WGA West Reaches $3M Settlement With CBS Studios Over Writer Fees and Benefits

The WGA West has successfully reached a $3 million settlement with CBS Studios. This follows a prolonged arbitration where the WGAW argued that 24 writers were owed payments under the guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement.

The guild described the settlement as “precedent-setting.” The WGAW pursued claims for writers from CBS Studios dramas like “MacGyver,” “SEAL Team,” and “Hawaii 5-0.” They argued that CBS Studios had violated MBA rules. Specifically, CBS declared writers rooms closed during between-season hiatuses. However, writers were still pressured to produce scripts and other materials during this period.

According to the WGA West, guild members were required to continue working despite the studio’s announcement that rooms were closed. Consequently, the studio stopped weekly compensation and benefit contributions for these writers.

CBS Studios has yet to comment on the resolution. The issue of TV and film writers being pressured to do additional work without compensation was a widely discussed topic during the WGA’s 148-day strike last year.

“When reports surface of writers and showrunners experiencing such unacceptable practices, the WGAW pursues enforcement on behalf of our members. We ensure studios comply with the MBA,” the guild said in their statement.

The settlement secured $3.05 million for the 24 CBS writers. This sum covered weekly pay, pension, health, and parental leave contributions. Additionally, more than $1 million in interest was included. The WGAW considers this a significant victory, likely to benefit other writers facing similar situations.

CBS Studios maintained that instances of writers being asked to do extra work happened occasionally and were limited to certain showrunners. They claimed that these requests were unknown to studio or network leaders. The WGAW emphasized their commitment to eradicating such practices.

In 2022, the WGAW’s legal department collected $79 million in unpaid fees and benefits for guild members. This included $4.9 million in initial compensation for writers and more than $1 million in interest for late payments. The bulk of the amount, $68.8 million, came from residual compensation along with $2.4 million in interest.

Last year, the guild’s legal department collected $6.6 million. This included $2.2 million in initial compensation and $2.8 million in residuals. So far this year, the total stands at $14.3 million, primarily from initial compensation amounting to $7.1 million, alongside $2.1 million in interest.

Source: Variety