The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers exchanged proposals on Monday, as they prepare for face-to-face bargaining next week.
Last week, the guild membership voted 98.4% in favor of the “pattern of demands,” a high-level summary of the guild’s top issues for a new basic agreement. The items include addressing “the abuses of mini-rooms” and increasing streaming residuals, among a dozen other issues.
The proposals are far more detailed, and are not expected to be made public so as to preserve the confidentiality of negotiations.
The two sides are expected to spend the coming week analyzing each other’s proposals in anticipation of the first bargaining session on March 20. The current contract expires on May 1, and negotiations could go right up to that deadline.
Many observers fear a strike is imminent, given that writers are seeking a dramatic overhaul in how they are compensated, while the studios are under pressure to cut costs and move toward profitability in their streaming ventures.
The WGA has argued that writers deserve to be paid a residual commensurate with the success of streaming shows. But the studios are likely to adamantly oppose any move to rewrite residual formulas in a way that requires them to surrender streaming viewership data. The guild also argues that middle-class writers are being squeezed by industry trends toward fewer episodes and smaller writers’ rooms.
The guild issued a report on Friday emphasizing that the entertainment business remains “highly profitable,” despite the gloomy tone of much industry coverage. The guild is expected to follow up with reports emphasizing that writer compensation has stagnated during the “peak TV” era.