WGA Extends Health Care Benefits Through Years End for Writers Facing Oct. 1 Cutoff

The WGA West will extend health care benefits through year’s end to members who were facing an Oct. 1 expiration of coverage because of the strike.

The extension was worked out as a part of the tentative contract agreement reached Sunday with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which will bring an end the nearly five-month strike. News about the health care coverage extension was communicated to members via messages from the guild on Monday.

The news was shared in a message to members sent by Lise Anderson, WGA West assistant executive director.

“Per the tentative agreemnt, WGA writers who are scheduled to lose PWGA health care coverage on 10/1/23 will be extended coverage for an additional quarter through 12/31/23. The same extension applies to writers who will exhaust their COBRA eligibility,” Anderson wrote.

The WGA West declined further comment. The guild is preparing for leadership votes on Tuesday on the final terms of the pact reached Sunday night shortly after 7 p.m. PT. Once those votes are in — assuming both are affirmative — the contract will be sent in full to WGA members for a ratification vote.

The deal is expected to sail smoothly through votes by the WGA negotiating committee, the board and council of the WGA West and WGA East, respectively, and the roughly 11,000 members. The deal was described Sunday evening as “exceptional” by the negotiating committee in its communication to members.

The WGA has been on strike since May 2. The guild’s strike order against AMPTP signatories is still in effect but picketing has been paused. The expectation is that WGA West board and WGA East council will also vote to formally lift the strike order, which would set a date for writers to formally go back to work for Hollywood’s major studios and streamers even before the ratification vote is completed.

The WGA’s extension of health care benefits echoes the move made by SAG-AFTRA — and approved by management-side trustrees of the guild’s health plan — in late August to extend coverage through year’s end to members who earned at least $22,000 or worked 85 days from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 14.

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