June 10, 2005
To Our Fellow Members,
At a time of changing business models in the entertainment industry - few of them beneficial to creative talent - we are pleased to report that our union remains in excellent financial shape. As evidence, we submit this Annual Report of the Writers Guild of America, west for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005. The bottom line (quite literally) is that the Guild generated a surplus last year of over $760,000, our fifth consecutive annual surplus. In this report you will find the Guild's financial statements, recent accomplishments, and other relevant industry and employment data for this past year. Allow us to take you through some of the salient details.
For fiscal year 2005, Guild revenues increased by 5.4% to $21.3 million (up from $20.2 million for FY2004). Unlike years past, this increase was not the result of growth in member dues. Those collections went up only slightly, increasing to $17.6 million from $17.5 million the previous year. This reflects a stagnant employment market - especially in reality-heavy network television - bolstered by still-growing member revenue generated by DVDs and other ancillary reuses. Instead, most of the Guild's overall revenue increase can be attributed to three other sources. First was the unprecedented distribution of almost $8 million in foreign copyright royalties to our member writers (East and west), heirs and beneficiaries of deceased members, and non-member writers of animation and nonfiction. The Guild assesses no dues on these distributions but does collect a 5% fee to offset the expenses of negotiating and administrating the foreign levies program. Second was the renewal of a residual processing agreement with the WGA East. Finally, pursuant to the 2004 MBA negotiations, the Guild received $100,000 from the AMPTP to fund a Showrunner Training Program. Although that program will not begin until later in the year, we received the funding in March and must account for it as revenue in FY2005. Together these sources generated revenue of about million dollars.
Investment income (not included in Guild revenues above) generated about $900,000 last year (down from $1.6 million for FY2004). This decrease was primarily due to unrealized market losses on our very conservative fixed income investments (positions we plan to hold to maturity) due to the Federal Reserve's multiple rate hikes and its dampening effects on the bond market. Compare this to unrealized market gains in the prior year and it is clear that this decline is merely "on paper" and has no bearing on our long term fiscal well being.
Turning to the expense side of the ledger, Guild expenditures increased 4.5% to $21.5 million for last year. This was up from $20.5 million for FY2004. The difference was due largely to employee salary and benefit increases. To stem the tide of non-WGA reality television, the Guild added staff in the Organizing Department. Staff was also added to the Residuals and Foreign Levies Departments (to process the increased DVD residuals and foreign levies) as well as to the Executive and Information Technology Departments. Further, when the Health Fund contribution to our members was increased in last year's MBA negotiation, the WGA staff received an identical increase, causing a rise in employee benefits expenses.
Significant capital expenditures last year included information technology system upgrades and conversion costs totaling about $900,000. This was down from $1.6 million in FY2004. While most of these upgrades have only impacted the internal operations of the Guild, some have found their way onto the WGAw web site (www.wga.org). Although a major web site overhaul is forthcoming, existing online improvements allow members to review their residuals history, pay dues by credit card, and make reservations for Guild-sponsored events. The website also features the names of individuals for whom the Guild holds undeliverable funds and the procedure for redemption. The Guild currently has almost $600,000 in undeliverable funds which include residual checks and other writer monies that have been returned by the post office. The Guild is prepared to distribute fully any of this money should these writers or their heirs come forward.
As of March 31, 2005, net assets belonging to the Guild reached $30.8 million. The Guild owns its headquarters and has an unused $4 million line of credit. The Guild's investment funds stand at $17.8 million including over $11 million in our Strike Fund and our Good and Welfare Fund combined.
For a union of barely 7,500 members to amass assets of this size requires perseverant fiscal strategy and rigorous operating accountability. Our Audit Committee (a seven-member subcommittee of the Board of Directors) oversees the thorough annual audit process performed by the independent accounting firm of Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co. The Guild staff and Executive Director John McLean operate under sound and prudent accounting policies which they implement with a watchful eye on behalf of the membership. Special appreciation goes to Chief Financial Officer Don Gor, Controller Madeline Rivera, and numerous department heads including Arthur Ureche (Dues), Corinne Tippin (Membership), and Paul Nawrocki (Assistant Executive Director/Member Services).
This Guild will continue to maintain fiscal stability and preserve its resources. It will also be willing to use those resources to enable, defend, and even expand its membership when needed. As this letter goes to press, the largest organizing campaign in WGA history has been launched - on behalf of reality TV writers and editors. The industry and our membership alike must appreciate that the full breadth of financial and human support of our Guild is behind that effort. To allow this and future campaigns to go unsupported would be a breach of our fiduciary duty. With that duty in mind, we, the undersigned members of the WGAw Membership and Finance Committee, present this Annual Report, and invite you to join us in our effort to preserve, activate, and grow this union.
The Membership and Finance Committee:
Patric M. Verrone (chair)
John P. Ziaukas
2004 Annual Report to Writers
2003 Annual Report to Writers
2002 Annual Report to Writers
2001 Annual Report to Writers
2000 Annual Report to Writers
1999 Annual Report to Writers
1998 Annual Report to Writers