Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Fake News, Real Union: Onion News Network Writers Join WGAE

Writers for the Onion News Network announced this week that they had joined the Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO and negotiated their first contract with ONN management.

The agreement will cover the second season of the show, which will begin airing on the Independent Film Channel on September 30.

The agreement calls for minimum compensation increases and health and pension contributions, retroactive to the start of writing earlier this summer. The producers also agreed to hire more writers and add extra writing weeks to the schedule.

The contract is a landmark. Until this agreement was reached, the Onion News Network was the last live-action scripted comedy show to employ non-union writers.

“Writing comedy is hard and time consuming work which makes Guild membership all the more important,” WGAE Director of Communications Elana Levin told the Hillman Blog, “Having more comedy writers in the Guild is beneficial to the working standards for all comedy writers regardless of where they work.”

Over 70 WGAE members from major New York-based comedy shows signed a letter of support on behalf of the ONN writers and hundreds of Guild members emailed the ONN producers.

The ONN writers stood together and won real improvements,” WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson said in a statement.  “We welcome them into the WGAE and we look forward to a productive relationship with the company.”