The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) and IATSE have reached a historic, national agreement to represent script coordinators working in the Canadian film and television industry, through all stages of production, including development.
An entry-level position, script coordinators are usually aspiring screenwriters. WGC says a trend towards smaller writing rooms in recent years (also referred to as “mini-rooms”) has resulted in those in the position handling more tasks than was previously the norm, from creative duties like script polishes and consultations, to administrative labour including copy editing, formatting, and distributing scripts.
The agreement acknowledges concerns about the potential for vulnerable workers – especially those from underrepresented communities, including writers who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) – to be exploited in the position, which is often temporary.
Under terms of the new agreement, individuals working in the writers’ room whose duties are primarily administrative will fall under IATSE’s jurisdiction. Those whose duties are primarily creative in nature, will fall under the WGC’s jurisdiction. Individuals assigned both administrative and creative tasks will be concurrently represented, where IATSE represents the administrative work and WGC represents the creative work.
Both parties have also agreed to review their fees with a view to minimizing barriers and maximizing benefits to script coordinators, including discussions on waiving initiation fees, especially for diverse individuals. IATSE and WGC have further agreed to collaborate on training and professional development for script coordinators.
“Workers are best protected when they are members of a union or guild,” said WGC Executive Director Victoria Shen. “We hope this agreement will protect young writers and provide them with the benefit of union representation as they are coming up and building their careers in our industry. We’re grateful to WGC members and BIPOC TV & Film for raising their voices on this important issue.”
“Whether entry-level or otherwise, all work has value and the people performing that work deserve to have a voice,” said IATSE Director of Canadian Affairs John Lewis. “IATSE is pleased to welcome these workers, and we are looking forward to a collaborative relationship with the WGC. Our voice is strongest when we speak together.”
IATSE represents 34,000 behind-the-scenes workers in Canadian film, television, animation, and live entertainment, while WGC represents 2,500 professional English-language screenwriters across the country.
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