Deric A. Hughes
As a proud and active member of the WGA for close to 10 years who cares about the issues of our writing community, I won’t try to drum up any personal accolades. Instead, I’m just going to cut to the brass tacks and tell you I am running for the Board with three incredibly smart and devoted colleagues, ASHLEY GABLE, DAVID SLACK, and PATTI CARR, who all share my priorities and care about the following goals:
The upcoming MBA NEGOTIATIONS. INCLUSION AND EQUITY. SCREENWRITERS' ISSUES. ENDING UNPAID WRITING, and ENFORCEMENT.
NEGOTIATIONS: As most of us understand, over the next two years our Guild faces two super important negotiations -- The Agency contract (AMBA) and the next Studio contract (MBA). Both offer possible important gains for writers, but making these gains will require continuing solidarity and member communication, as exhibited when we came together as a union for a 96.3% strike authorization vote during the 2017 MBA Negotiations. We proved that the Guild can achieve great results when unified, and as a Board member, I will work hard to keep pushing/encouraging for that level of solidarity to protect all writers, so that we can all win gains in our next upcoming negotiations.
INCLUSION AND EQUITY: While some progress has been made, there are still a very large percentage of writers’ rooms that shine a spotlight on how far we still have to go when it comes to representing women, minorities, LGBTQ and others in broadcast scripted, cable, and digital shows before Inclusion even comes close to being considered a non-issue. And while diverse writers’ room are ones that tend to have diverse showrunners, studies have consistently shown less than 10 percent of writers, both in network and cable are minorities. Meanwhile, the percentage of women writers in both scripted and cable has dropped from 46% to 32% in 2017, according to data collected by the 2017 Bunche Center’s report.
And as for the practice of discriminatory hiring, the Guild needs to find firmer ways to help/instruct companies, studios, networks, and even agencies on setting specific and achievable goals around finding voices that deserve to be heard loud and clear. By using WGA resources to collect data on hiring practices and salary discrepancies, we can better isolate where major problems lie and demand the change people of color, women, LGBT, disabled, and other underrepresented groups are not only legally entitled to, but rightfully entitled to as well.
SUPPORT FOR SCREENWRITERS: More than 60% of screenwriters are working at minimums, not getting paid on time, writing multiple drafts on One-Step deals, and doing pre-writing and leave-behinds. These issues need to be addressed and changed. To achieve this, we need a Board that will not only make issues affecting screenwriters front and center, but that will help screenwriters put these abusive practices to an end and get the fair treatment they all deserve.
UNPAID WRITING: Almost every writer reading this knows free writing has been a growing problem for all of us, and it doesn’t look it’s going to get better anytime soon unless we aggressively do something about it. TV writers, both in development and on shows, regularly are asked to submit written materials in place of pitches, including what amounts to Formats and Bibles and “Packets,” as well as sweepstakes pitching, producer-requested spec scripts, elaborate “look books,” and requests to leave behind written material. While on the other end of the spectrum, according to the WGA’s most recent Screenwriter survey, increasingly, screenwriters are forced to perform uncompensated writing before selling an idea or getting a job. We need clear-cut solutions and the will to enforce said solutions to these issues. Just as the 2.4 weeks per episode concept helped TV writers in the last negotiations, a similar concept should applied toward features and TV development in the form of expanding billable writing on any material submitted to a signatory or its affiliate. Bottom line: Pay the writer. Every single time they write.
ENFORCEMENT: The growing success of the “Get Paid on Time” campaign for TV led by fellow colleagues Patti Carr and David Slack and the Captains Enforcement Working Group has shown campaigns like this can be effective if organized properly and used across every medium. Using technologies like the “Screenwriter Start Button” where a writer can notify the Guild that work has started it can help flag and audit late pay and other MBA violations which should not be tolerated by the Guild. Ever.
While most members will more than likely agree with our positions, we need a Board that will continue to take on the tough challenges that lie ahead and get results. ASHLEY GABLE, DAVID SLACK, PATTI CARR, and I have all been active in the Guild for years. We stand in firm agreement about all of the above issues, and we are more than ready to take action. Please vote for the four of us so we can work together and take care of business.