WGA sources say that veteran CBS soaps The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless are the ones the guild has received the most complaints about. The guild’s contract requires a show’s soap writers to be given one assignment a week, but writers can ask for a waiver to cut back on the workload if they have a legitimate reason, such as illness or a family emergency.
Some producers allegedly have been gaming the system by bullying less-favored writers into asking the guild for waivers to reduce their assignments by one or more a month, even though they actually want to continue working full time. Sources say that some writers have been forced to give up a script or two a month so that an actor or a line producer can write a show or so a new writer can be brought in at no extra cost.
The contract language governing these waivers was meant to protect writers by mandating that the request come from the writer. If it does, the contract requires the guild to grant the waiver, but if the guild determines that it originated from the company, it can refuse. The guild, however, has yet to deny such a waiver requested by a soap writer.
Guild records show that from June 2014 through June 2015, the guild granted 23 such waivers to soap writers – 16 on CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful, six to writers on the network’s The Young and the Restless, and one to a writer on NBC’s Days of our Lives. In the previous year, writers on B&B requested another 11 waivers, and Y&R writers asked for two.
“The number of waiver requests have multiplied over the last decade,” said Karen Harris, a WGA board member and former chair of the guild’s Daytime Writers Committee who sits on the guild’s Waiver Committee. “Hardly a month goes by when we don’t have a waiver request or two.”
Harris said that she has seen soap writers’ personal service agreements that “memorialize a reduced guarantee along with the condition that the writer seek a waiver every 13 weeks.” This, she believes, “demonstrates coercion on the part of the company and establishes that the waiver requests are often not truly ‘initiated’ by the writers as required by the MBA.”
We Love Soaps reached out to The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless reps but has yet to receive a reply. The Deadline story gives one perspective but obviously there are many more.