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CBS Pays $3M In Settlement With Writers Guild Over Labor Dispute

CBS Pays $3M In Settlement With Writers Guild Over Labor Dispute

The Writers Guild of America West has negotiated a settlement with CBS over work that occurred after writers rooms were shut down on several shows that has awarded $3.05 million to 24 writers, union leaders informed members on Wednesday.

According to a member message, the settlement resulted from an arbitration claim that the union filed for writers on MacGyver, Seal Team and Hawaii 5-0. “Guild members providing writing services on these series were required to continue working even though the studio had declared the [writers] rooms closed and stopped making weekly compensation and benefit contribution payments to the impacted writers,” WGA West president Meredith Stiehm, vice president Michele Mulroney and secretary-treasurer Betsy Thomas wrote. The WGA West contended that this practice violated its minimum basic agreement and that staff writers and so-called “Article 14 writers” (scribes who have a “story writer” title or higher) should have been paid weekly and received benefit contributions for that working period.

The $3.05 million settlement encompasses $1 million in interest in addition to weekly pay and pension, health and parental leave contributions for those writers.

“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 Writers Guild of America West said in a statement.

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to CBS for comment.

In their message to members, the WGA West leaders asserted that CBS wasn’t the only company engaging in the practice of purportedly closing writers rooms early, while writing work persisted. “The WGAW has identified several companies that have violated the MBA by declaring a writers’ room closed – even though writing continues – as a pretext to avoid paying Article 14 weeklies and benefit contributions,” the message said. “The Guild is pursuing claims for writers in those situations.”

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These practices started before the 2023 writers’ strike but have emerged with more frequency since, per the union. In some recent cases, companies allegedly offered to pay writers script fees but not weekly pay once the writers rooms were shut down.

In the message the union leaders also took the opportunity to tout the success of contract enforcement actions in the past few years. In 2022, the union’s legal department recovered nearly $79 million in a period that included a settlement with Netflix over the 2018 film Bird Box that yielded $42 million in previously unpaid residuals to writers. In 2023, enforcement actions yielded over $6 million, while so far this year the legal department has collection over $14 million in initial payments, residual compensation, writer and guild damages, benefits contributions and interest.

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