Alliance. Atlantis. Cinar. Telescene. More and more of our members are providing writing services for these and other Canadian production companies. However, what many of our members and their agents don’t know are the guidelines which must be followed before such employment can be accepted under the jurisdiction of the Writers Guild of Canada.
The Writers Guild of America has an arrangement with the Writers Guild of Canada which allows our members to work for Canadian companies who have (1) signed the WGC’s Letter of Adherence and (2) signed the WGA’s Article 17 (Pension and Health) documentation and sideletter agreement.
The Article 17 documentation when signed by the company provides that our members will receive WGA Pension and Health contributions for work performed for Canadian companies.
The sideletter which must be executed by the company sets forth conditions in addition to Pension and Health. Some key provisions include:
1. The writer must be paid initial compensation of at least WGA minimum (including Article 14 "hyphenate" minimums, where applicable);
2. No less than WGA residuals are to be paid to the writer. The WGC production fee and royalty payments go toward satisfying this requirement;
3. Copies of contracts and notices of tentative writing credits are sent to the WGA.
It is important before a member accepts employment with a Canadian production company that the Guild is notified in order to make sure that the company has complied with the above.
Once the company has signed and returned this documentation to the Guild, the member may request a waiver of Working Rule #8. This working rule states:
"No member shall accept employment with, nor option or sell literary material to, any person, firm or corporation who is not signatory to the applicable MBA.
Violation of this Rule shall automatically subject the member to a fine, the maximum amount of which shall not exceed 100% of the remuneration received from such non-signatory."
Working Rule #8 waivers are granted by the Guild’s Waiver Committee which meets once a month. Requests will not be granted if the company has not submitted the proper paperwork to the Guild.
Remember, these waivers allow members to contract under the terms and conditions of the WGC Independent Production Agreement, as amended by Article 17 (Pension and Health) and the sideletter agreement noted above. The provisions of the WGC Independent Production Agreement regarding matters such as separated rights, merchandising, credits, grievance and/or arbitration are different than the provisions contained in the WGA Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement. Therefore, writers generally must look to the WGC Independent Production Agreement to determine the rights and monies to which the writer may be entitled and to the WGC to enforce the terms of their agreement. Please contact the WGC at 416.979.7907 for clarification.
If you have any questions about employment with Canadian companies, would like to request a Working Rule #8 waiver form, or would like information on the Guild’s Waiver Committee and their meeting times, please contact Linda Martinez in the Guild’s Executive Offices at 213.782.4646.