ABC News and Writers' Guild Reach Agreement

Yesterday, ABC News announced that it had reached a tentative contract agreement with the Writers Guild of America East, which represents roughly 250 ABC News employees. The previous contract had expired in January of 2005. The new agreement, which will go before union members for a vote on December 13, would institute a 3.5-percent wage increase.

"In addition to the annual wage increase, the new agreement, which expires Feb. 1, 2010, includes a one-time signing bonus of $3,700 for full-time employees," reports Crain’s. "Part-time workers will get a pro-rated bonus."

Reached by phone on Friday morning, Mona Mangan, executive director of the Writers Guild of America East, told Media Mob that the issue had been "festering" at ABC for a long time.

One of the sticking points, she said, was that ABC management had previouisly demanded that a number of producers at ABC Channel 7 be taken out of the writers guild. According to Ms. Mangan, the WGA had filed a complaint on the subject with the National Labor Relations Board. She said the board was prepared to rule in the WGA’s favor. Recently, ABC had dropped the demand–which was one of the factors leading to the new agreement.

"The board was prepared to rule in our favor," said Ms. Mangan. "I think that may be catalytic. But I think there might have been other reasons in terms of ABC management wanting a more harmonious workplace."

Does she think that the agreement with ABC News will put added pressure on CBS News to make a more generous offer to its guild members?

"I think it’s difficult for them to justify their position when their competition has reached an agreement with the writers guild," said Ms. Mangan. "CBS is offering less than a 2 percent [wage] increase a year for the duration of the contract. That’s an outrageous proposal."