Can a WGA Signatory Hire Non-WGA Writers?

Can a WGA Signatory Hire Non-WGA Writers?

You’re an independent film and television production company that became a signatory to the Writers Guild of America (WGA). You hired a WGA writer to write a screenplay and paid that writer in full, including all WGA mandated P&H obligations. Now you want to hire another writer, who is not a WGA member.

This raises the following questions.

  1. Can you hire that writer?
  2. Can you hire that writer and not be subject to WGA minimums and P&H obligations?

What is a WGA signatory?

A Signatory to the WGA is a person or company that has signed a collective bargaining agreement with the WGA. Anyone that employs a WGA member, or option or purchase literary material from a Guild member, must become signatory to the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement. The WGA covers writers for Film, TV, Streaming, News and New Media.

Who can become a WGA member?

Anyone who has been hired by a company who is a WGA signatory can become a WGA member if their work falls under the jurisdiction of a Film/TV/Streaming, Broadcast/Cable/Streaming, News, or Online Media contract.

A writer may also be able to qualify for Guild membership if they get involved with the Guild through their work with Caucuses and Organizing.

A WGA member can only work for a WGA Signatory (See Working Rule 8 of the WGA’s Code of Working Rules). In addition, A WGA member may not option or sell literary material to a non-signatory company or person. If caught, the WGA member may be fined or have their Guild membership revoked.

Why become a WGA Member?

If you are a writer, showrunner or executive producer, there are many benefits to joining the WGA that can help you to succeed in your career. Here are some of the pros of joining the WGA:

  • Minimum Salary. As a member of the WGA, you will have a minimum salary requirement for any work you do. This means that you will not be underpaid for your work in the entertainment industry.
  • Credit Protection. The WGA also provides credit protection for its members. This means that if you are not given credit for your work, the WGA will help you to get the credit that you deserve.
  • Residuals. The WGA negotiates residuals for its members, which are payments that you receive when your work is reused or rebroadcast. This can be a major source of income for writers, especially if their work is popular.
  • Separated Rights. “Separated rights” under the WGA MBA means that the writer retains the following “reserved rights”: Dramatic Stage Rights, Theatrical Rights (i.e. Motion picture), Publication Rights (of the script, or a book based on the material), Merchandising Rights, Radio Rights, Live Television Rights, Interactive Rights, and all other rights. Reserved rights must be separately negotiated between writer and company.
  • Healthcare. The WGA also provides healthcare for its members. This can be a major benefit, as the healthcare industry in the United States is very expensive.
  • Pension. The WGA also provides a pension for its members. This can be a major benefit, as it can help you to save for retirement.

In addition to these benefits, the WGA also offers a variety of services to its members, such as educational programs, networking events, and legal assistance.

What then are a signatory’s obligations to its WGA writer?

If you’re a signatory to the Guild, your projects are WGA-covered projects, and you must pay your WGA writer at least the minimum compensation required by the MBA, give your writer proper credit for their work, and make Pension and Health contributions on behalf of the writer on “covered” writing services. These services can include writing for screenplays, treatments, teleplays, pilots, episodic television, New Media projects, documentaries, low-budget features, news programs, soap operas, and in some cases, option & purchase of scripts.

Can a Production Company hire non-Guild writers?

While a non-signatory company may not hire a WGA writer, a WGA signatory company can hire both WGA members and non-WGA writers.

All of the conditions of the MBA apply to all writers you employ, both WGA and non-WGA. That means, if you’re a WGA signatory company, all your writers must receive the MBA minimums in terms of writing fees, fringes, residuals, credits, and separated rights, and you must pay health and pension contributions on their behalf, regardless of their membership status with the WGA.


A WGA signatory producer can hire non-WGA writers. However, there are some restrictions that apply.

First, the WGA signatory must agree to abide by the terms of the WGA minimum basic agreement (MBA). This means that the signatory must provide non-WGA writers with all of the same benefits that WGA writers receive, such as pay non-WGA writers at least the minimum compensation required by the MBA and make P&H contributions on their behalf.

Second, the signatory must agree to allow non-WGA writers to join the WGA if they wish.

If a WGA signatory hires non-WGA writers without abiding by these restrictions, the signatory may be subject to fines and other penalties.

There are a few reasons why a WGA signatory might choose to hire non-WGA writers. One reason might be that the signatory is unable to find WGA writers who are available to work on a particular project. Another reason might be that the signatory is trying to save money by hiring non-WGA writers.

However, there are also some risks associated with hiring non-WGA writers. One risk is that the non-WGA writers may not be as experienced or talented as WGA writers. Another risk is that the non-WGA writers may not be as familiar with the WGA’s rules and regulations.

Overall, whether or not a WGA signatory company should hire non-WGA writers is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis. The signatory should carefully consider the risks and benefits before making a decision.

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