WGA West Reaches $3 Million Settlement With CBS Studios Over Fees

WGA West Reaches $3 Million Settlement With CBS Studios Over Fees

The WGA West has reached a $3 million settlement with CBS Studios after an arbitration fight over what the WGAW insisted were payments owed to 24 writers under the terms of the guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement.

The WGAW called the settlement “precedent-setting.” The guild pursued claims on behalf of writers for CBS Studios dramas “MacGyver,” “SEAL Team” and “Hawaii 5-0.” The guild asserted that CBS Studios violated MBA rules by declaring writers rooms to be closed for a between-season hiatus but in fact writers were still pressured to deliver scripts and other material during the downtime.

“Guild members providing writing services on these series were required to continue working even though the studio had declared the rooms closed and stopped making weekly compensation and benefit contribution payments to the impacted writers,” the WGA West said in a message to members.

CBS Studios declined to comment on the resolution. Complaints about TV and film writers facing pressure to do extra work without compensation was a widespread issue heard on picket lines last year during the WGA’s 148-day strike.

“When there are reports of writers and showrunners who have experienced these kinds of unacceptable practices by their employers, the WGAW has and continues to pursue enforcement on behalf of our members and ensure the studios comply with the MBA,” the guild said in a statement.

The WGAW’s settlement collected $3.05 million for the two dozen CBS writers. “This amount included all the weekly pay, pension, health, and parental leave contributions owed as well as more than $1 million in interest. This is a precedent-setting settlement that will help other writers who face this unacceptable practice,” the WGAW said in its message to members.

It’s understood that CBS Studios’ position on the case was that the practice of asking for extra work after writers rooms closed in March or April happened with selected showrunners in limited situations, unbeknownst to studio or network leaders. The WGAW’s message made it clear the guild is hammering down on such practices.

In 2022, WGAW’s legal department collected $79 million in unpaid fees and benefits for guild members. That number included $4.9 million in initial compensation for writers plus more than $1 million in interest for late payments. The bulk of the coin due to scribes came from $68.8 million in residual compensation plus $2.4 million in interest.

Last year, the guild’s legal department collected $6.6 million, including $2.2 million in initial compensation and $2.8 million in residuals. This year so far, the tally is $14.3 million, most of which comes from initial compensation ($7.1 million), plus $2.1 million in interest.

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