The Writers Guild of America has announced that the writers for "Onion News Network" have joined its ranks after a standoff with The Onion, Inc. over pay and benefits for the writing staff of the IFC comedy program. A threatened work stoppage has been averted by the deal.
“The ONN writers stood together and won real improvements,” said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson in a statement. “We welcome them into the WGAE and we look forward to a productive relationship with the company.”
Over the last several weeks, the writers for "ONN" sought permission from The Onion, Inc., the producers of "ONN," to join the WGA, and as of Friday the negotiations seemed to reach a standstill. According to the WGA, "ONN" was the only scripted, live-action program that had employed non-union writers.
The WGA also reached out to current and former writers of The Onion, Inc.'s other outposts, such as The Onion newspaper, asking them to pledge support for the "ONN" writers to receive benefits consistent with those received by other TV program staffs.
Although it is unknown how many writers working for The Onion, Inc. signed a statement standing by the "ONN" writers, Peterson said that over 70 WGA members working for New York-based comedy shows pledged support, and hundreds of other WGA members emailed the producers.
As new members of the union, the show's seven writers will receive retroactive pay raises as well as pension and health contributions going back to the commencement of writing for the second season.
The second season of "Onion News Network" is scheduled to premiere on IFC on Sept. 30 and run for ten weeks.