Tyler Perry Studios, WGA Reach Agreement - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Tyler Perry Studios reached an agreement with the Writers Guild of America on the terms of a contract for writers of television shows House of Payne (Perry and cast, above) and Meet the Browns. (Photo courtesy of TBS)

After more than five months of negotiations over writers’ contracts that included residuals and other benefits, Tyler Perry Studios and the Writers Guild of America (WGA)-West announced last week that they had come to an agreement.

“We are pleased to have come to a resolution with the WGA, and thank the NAACP for their support during negotiations,” said Tyler Perry in a statement. “We look forward to many years working with the talented writers who are members of the Guild.”

The contract with the WGA was the last outstanding union agreement for Tyler Perry Studios, which had previously brokered deals with the Teamsters; the IATSE, a professional stagehands union; the Screen Actors Guild (SAG); the Directors Guild of America (DGA); and others. Perry is a member of the DGA.

Ben Jealous, NAACP national president, Vic Bulluck, executive director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, and Clayola Brown, national president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, were instrumental in settling the terms of the agreement.

“The NAACP is a staunch advocate for workers rights and for nearly one hundred years has fought for greater minority representation and inclusion in Hollywood. We applaud Tyler Perry’s efforts to not only promote, but to also provide work for people of color in the entertainment industry,” Jealous said in a statement.

Despite the accomplishment, some of the writers on Perry’s TBS series House of Payne and Meet the Browns will not be returning. Last October, when Perry welcomed Will Smith, Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson, Oprah Winfrey, and Ruby Dee, among others, to celebrate with him as he unveiled his film and television studio in Atlanta, the A-listers had to cross a picket line of writers who said they were unfairly fired from Perry’s critically acclaimed sitcom House of Payne. The writers were accompanied by supporters from the Writers Guild of America-West.

Earlier in the year, seven writers entered into negotiations with Tyler Perry Studios about residuals on the soon—to-debut sitcom Meet the Browns. The WGA said in a news release that the writers–Kellie Griffin, Christopher Moore, Teri Brown-Jackson, and Lamont Ferrell–were warned against unionizing and told that they could be “replaced.”

Before the NAACP got involved to find a resolution, the WGA alleged that Tyler Perry’s House of Payne L.L.C. unlawfully fired four writers in retaliation for their union activity, and the union subsequently filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

Matt Johnson, who negotiated the deal for Tyler Perry Studios, said in an October statement that the four writers were terminated because of the quality of their work and denied that they were fired for attempting to unionize.

“If that were the case, they would not have allowed us to write over 100 episodes of a sitcom

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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