Dear new Writers Guild of America West member,
This is serious stuff. You are now a professional writer. You had about a five times better chance of hearing your name read at the Major League baseball draft this year than of getting this letter.* Make sure your parents know that.
As a member-led union of writers, the Guild is a place that you should consider your home. You probably know already that being a writer carries with it great opportunities, but also unique challenges that often only other writers truly understand. Generations of writers have worked hard to give you access to the tools you need to meet these challenges and to find camaraderie with your fellow writers. The New Members Committee is committed to helping you learn about and access those tools—so please take advantage.
David Shore Co-Chair, New Members Committee
*Approximately 1500 players drafted into Major League baseball every year; approximately 300 new members admitted to the WGAW every year.
For information on how to join the Guild, visit How to Become a Member.
WHAT WE DO
New Members Program
Meet other writers, learn about your union and eat free!
Making it as a professional writer is not an easy thing to do. And now that you've gotten your foot in the door, we want to make sure you have the right information to develop your career. If you're a new Current member, at the New Members Reception, you will:
- Meet your contemporaries and be placed onto a mentor-led team
- Learn about your portable Pension and Health benefits
- Hear about some of the pitfalls you're sure to encounter in your career and how to deal with them
All this – and we'll throw in a meal and booze to boot. For information about the next reception, email Sheila Boyd or call us at (323) 782-4567.
You can also familiarize yourself with the Guild and its functions by reading FYI: Guide to the Guild and visiting the website's FAQs. For contact information about a specific department within the Guild and descriptions of departmental functions, go to our Contact Us page.
Enforcing Our Contract
Credits, Minimums, Residuals, Your Rights and more!
The Minimum Basic Agreement is the collective bargaining agreement which covers most of the work done by WGA writers. The terms are negotiated every three years by the Guild and its "bargaining partners," the companies that are signatory to the agreement. Read "What Every Writer Needs to Know" for a quick checklist of some of the rights to which you're entitled under the MBA. One of the Guild's main functions is to enforce the MBA as well as writing services and literary material purchase agreements with signatory companies. If you encounter a problem in one of the areas below, contact the Guild for help.
Other Contracts lists many of the other Guild agreements and documents vital to working writers including the Low Budget Agreement, Standard TV and Theatrical Contracts, Interactive Program Contract for videogames, public TV and newswriter agreements, and digital/new media-related documents.
Did you know that it's possible for a writer to buy back the rights to a script that's been optioned but never produced? It's true. Writers can reacquire scripts if they meet certain criteria. Go here for information about how the Guild can help.
If you write original material under Guild jurisdiction, the Guild's MBA provides you with certain additional rights. These "Separated Rights" differ for theatrical and television projects so if you believe you qualify for these rights and a signatory company might have violated them, contact the Contracts Department.
The Guild monitors compliance with the MBA's Creative Rights provisions to ensure that writers receive the rights we bargain for. These rights include being offered the opportunity to view a cut of a film prior to its being locked, participating in press junkets, and being invited to the premiere or film festival at which a picture is first exhibited. Contact the Credits Department if you believe a company has violated your creative rights.
If you discover a problem with the writing credits accorded on a Guild project, contact the Credits Department. The Credits Department will investigate and demand correction of any violation of the MBA credit provisions. Find booklets and answers to questions regarding the credits process under Credits Manuals and Credits Forms.
As a member, you're entitled to receive at least the Guild minimum compensation from a Guild signatory company for your writing services. Refer to the Schedule of Minimums for rates under the current contract. If a signatory company fails to pay you for writing services or for the purchase of your literary material, or if you see that your literary material has been used in a publication, piece of merchandise, videogame, or some other derivative use contact the Contracts Department.
Residuals, script publications fees, etc.
Just what are "residuals" and how do they work? To find out, visit Residuals and read the "Residuals Survival Guide" and sign up for a myWGA account to track your Residuals Online. If a signatory company fails to make any of the payments which you believe you are due, contact the Residuals Department.
Pregnancy and Parenting Leave
Writers on term contracts in episodic television are entitled to up to eight weeks of unpaid job protected parental leave for the birth of a new child, the adoption of a child, or the placement of a foster child. Find out more HERE or contact the Contracts Department.
Health Coverage, Pension and other good stuff
- Portable Healthcare
The Writers' Guild-Industry Health Fund provides medical, hospital, dental, prescription, vision, wellness, and life insurance benefits to eligible members and their dependents. You can check here to determine if you are eligible. As freelancers who work for many different companies over the span of a career, having a single well funded and generous health benefit program where all companies contribute is a hugely important in providing stability for both Guild members and their families.
- Portable Pension
The Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan provides retirement benefits to its Participants or their Beneficiaries. Aggressive collective bargaining by Guild leadership and careful decision-making by the plan's trustees have enabled the pension to remain among the top programs offered to union members. The WGA pension offers an outstanding 48.3% multiplier to retirees meeting minimum eligibility at age 62, the highest rate of return in Hollywood.
- Credit Union
Members of the Writers Guild of America West and their dependents are eligible to join the Musicians Interguild Credit Union (MICU). Because credit unions are nonprofit organizations owned by their members, they tend to offer more competitive rates on loans than you may find at a bank. MICU also offers traditional banking services online and at locations in both Hollywood and Studio City.
- The Guild Screenings
Members receive free admission to The Guild Screenings, which consists primarily of new release movies along with special curated films reviewing the repertoire of a Guild-honored writer, a writer who is under-appreciated, current low-budget indies, documentaries, and other unique events. The writer, when available, will be present at these special screenings, for Q&A. Members are welcome to bring a guest.
- Script Registration
WGAW members in good standing can also register scripts and other material for $10, half off the price for non-members. Visit www.wgawregistry.org to register online.
- Discounts and Special Offers
In addition to these benefits, check out these Special Offers for products, services and events exclusively for WGAW members.
- Portable Healthcare
HOW WE WORK
Captains & Stewards
Make sure your voice is heard
Since 2007 members of the Guild have volunteered their time, talent, and energy to serve as captains and stewards. These volunteers are responsible for communicating with and mobilizing a team of fellow writers to support the Guild's collective bargaining, enforcement, organizing, and public policy goals. Teams are organized in a variety of ways including worksites (writing rooms), or by genre, affinity group, or neighborhood. Field representatives from the Member Organizing Department convene meetings with captains and members in writing rooms, members' homes, and other venues. In the CBS news units, stewards serve the same function as captains and represent writers at each worksite. If you would like to explore serving as a captain or would like to be on a team, contact Member Organizing at (323) 782-4713.
Guild Democracy & Administration
Your vote matters!
Your union is a democracy, and it needs your participation to succeed. The very least any member can, and should do, is vote. The WGAW is run by a Board of Directors and three officers: President, Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer. They are all writers, like you, and donate their time in service of the Guild. The Board members and officers are responsible for setting the Guild's agenda and priorities, implementing changes and initiatives, addressing member concerns, and strategizing for the future. See the current list of officers and board members and contact them here. The minutes from the Board meetings can be obtained by contacting the Awards/Elections Department. The Constitution and By-Laws of the Writers Guild of America West contain the Working Rules that govern the Guild and its members.
The WGA is more than just film and TV
Writers who work on non-Guild shows often face many workplace hardships without benefits like health care and pension benefits that their colleagues who work under WGA contracts receive. The most effective way to raise standards at work is to organize. To advance collectively we need each other. By standing together in an effective strategic campaign, writers will be able to negotiate contracts that will provide them with industry standard benefits. Thousands of U.S. workers throughout the country are engaging in this process to gain recognition and win a union contract.
Due to the combined efforts of the Organizing Department staff and WGAW Caucus members, the Guild has achieved success in organizing writers in the areas of animation, independent film, newswriting, nonfiction, videogames, reality TV & gameshows.
When you enter into an employment or purchase agreement on a theatrical, television, new media, or videogame project, ask for the deal to be Guild-covered, then contact Organizing in order for the Guild to negotiate an agreement with the production company.
Public Policy & the Political Action Committee
Reaching beyond Hollywood
The Guild's Political Department provides members with up-to-date information about critical public policy debates, and the WGAW's positions and involvement in a host of issues, including combating piracy, media consolidation, Internet freedom (net neutrality), and independent production. The WGAW is committed to an effective public policy program that protects the financial welfare and rights of creative talent, and advances the interests of writers.
The WGAW Political Action Committee (PAC) allows WGAW members to make voluntary contributions to a fund that works to elect public officials who are sympathetic to the difficulties of making it as a professional writer. Click on the link to get information, contribute, and get involved. (You must have a MyWGA account to view this page.)
CRAFT AND CAREER ADVANCEMENT
The Craft of Writing
Learn from other writers
The WGAW’s award-winning Written By is the premiere magazine written by and for writers, providing a unique look into the art, craft, and business of writing in Hollywood. 3rd & Fairfax, our official podcast features information and updates about the Guild and interviews with top writers while The Craft gets writers’ behind-the-scenes takes on how they crafted the scripts for today's most popular, exciting and original films and TV shows. Subscribe to the Guild’s YouTube channel to watch Guild panels, video interviews with screenwriters, and other screenwriting-related content.
Need hard-to-find technical information for your next script or project? The Ask the Expert: FYI Listings provide contact details to individuals and organizations that have volunteered to answer writers’ questions about their field of expertise.
Writers Guild Foundation & Library
The ultimate writers’ resource
The Writers Guild Foundation is a non-profit educational organization whose programs include the Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library, a writer-focused collection of scripts and other materials related to writers and writing. Founded in 1984, the library is now home to over 30,000 items consisting of produced film, television, and radio scripts – many of which have received major writing awards – books, periodicals, DVDs, videos, a digital script-reading facility, and other materials on the history, biography, art, craft, and business of writing for entertainment media. Search the catalog and get information about library hours as well as Foundation classes, seminars, events, and other projects on their website.
Career Training & Advice
Showrunner training and advice for screen and TV writers
Check out Guild publications that contain vital information about the MBA, your career, and your rights as a Writers Guild member. Titles include Creative Rights for Writers, the Credits Survival Guide, Understanding Separated Rights, and What Every Writer Needs to Know. The Screenwriters Need to Know Video Series is designed to help writers navigate the challenges posed by today’s industry practices. You’ll hear prominent feature writers share their experiences and advice on how to maintain a successful writing career in the current business environment
Conducted in partnership with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the highly successful Showrunner Training Program is designed to help senior-level writer-producers and recent creators hone the skills necessary to become successful showrunners in today’s television landscape. Providing invaluable instruction from current showrunners and other industry professionals, the program has helped produce many successful results.
HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Inclusion and Equity
Opportunity for all!
The WGAW feels strongly that writers from diverse backgrounds should have a chance to succeed in film and television. The Inclusion and Equity Department works to encourage positive change in hiring practices and to increase awareness of the unique obstacles often faced by diverse writers.
The missions of the TV Writer Access Project and Feature Writer Access Project are to identify excellent diverse writers in order to provide a hiring resource for producers and increase access to WGAW members from groups that have been historically underemployed.
The Inclusion and Equity Department also works with eight WGAW member committees to develop events which range from panel discussions on various aspects of the craft of writing to networking opportunities. Go to the Guild Calendar for a list of upcoming events and contact the Inclusion and Equity Department to find out how to become involved.
See the Inclusion and Equity Department’s Resource List for further industry talent development opportunities.
Committees and Caucuses are a great place to start
Active members are the lifeblood of the Writers Guild. Please contact your Field Representative for ways that you can get involved today. You may also consider joining one of the Guild's Committees or Writing Caucuses, attending a Guild event, or would like to let us know if you were offered work that isn't covered by the Guild but should be. We encourage you to be active and to participate in the community of writers. You are the WGA. Your involvement and efforts won't go unrecognized or unrewarded.
NEWS & EVENTS
The Guild Calendar, Press Room & More
More information that you could possibly need
Posted monthly, the Guild Calendar lists all WGAW and Writers Guild Foundation-sponsored events. With its goals of working to preserve and promote excellence in writing, and advancing the recognition of the writer’s contribution to the art of film and television, the Foundation sponsors craft workshops, interviews, panel discussions, receptions, festivals, and many other writer-oriented events. You can reserve a seat at WGFoundation.org.
Check out Buzz for a list of member-related events, happenings, and announcements. The site also maintains a list of members' websites. Contact the website editor if you’d like the Guild to link to your site.
See the Press Room on the homepage for the very latest press releases and announcements.
Since 1948, the Guild has honored the outstanding achievements in film, television, and radio writing at the annual Writers Guild Awards, which are often seen as a precursor to the Oscars®. If you have questions regarding eligibility rules or the awards show, call (323) 782-4569.
Are you on Facebook? Become a friend of the WGA West or follow us on Twitter to keep abreast of members-only events, find links to writer-centric articles, see WGAW photos, and be entertained with writerly wit and trivia.