Half an hour ago, the Writers Guild of America announced that membership had voted to ratify the new AMPTP contract, putting an official end to the tumult and negotiations that had caused the 100-day writers strike.
Here’s the official email from the WGA…
“To Our Fellow Members:
Today, it is our pleasure to inform you that members of the Writers Guilds of America, East and West, have voted to ratify the MBA contract with 93.6% approval. With a total of 4,060 votes cast, the tally was 3,802 to 258. These numbers reaffirm the tremendous level of support and commitment our membership has continuously demonstrated over these last few crucial months.
We are also pleased to report that the trustees of our health fund voted yesterday to follow the recommendation in our strike settlement agreement to provide additional coverage and an extension of the earnings cycle for a full quarter (three months) to participants who would otherwise lose health coverage following an earnings cycle that included all or a portion of the strike period. Participants whose health coverage is paid for by points will only be charged points if they have ten or more points as of April 1, 2008.
As we close this chapter in our union’s history, what we together have accomplished should not be underestimated. The 2008 MBA establishes a beachhead on the Internet and in new media that will guarantee our share of a potentially vast and bountiful future. Writers already are working on new media projects under this agreement and residuals must now be paid for streaming and downloads of our library of films and TV shows.
Language in the contract will allow us to monitor and audit these new technologies and new business models, but it will take vigilance on the part of our membership to make sure that original Internet writing is done under a WGA contract and with appropriate terms and conditions.
The same sort of vigilance will be needed to assist members of SAG and AFTRA. They are about to go through a similar process to the one we experienced. Their support of our cause was invaluable. We must use all our efforts and experience to support them as well. Further gains that they can achieve will have an immediate, positive effect on our contract.
We must take our newfound spirit and unity and use it to move our two unions forward. We look to the future and our newly revitalized member engagement to reaffirm writers as the first among equals in the most collaborative art form in history. As the last few weeks proved once and for all, we are all in this together.
Patric M. Verrone