Photo by Moises Marquez

Guild & Industry

Ridiculousness Writers Negotiate First Contract

Newest WGAW members enjoyed support throughout contract campaign.

Upon securing their first union contract, the newest members of the WGAW will enjoy improved compensation based on MBA minimums, health and pension benefits, full season employment guarantees, and many other gains that are industry standard.

In other words, for the writers of a certain hit MTV show, their collective work outlook just got significantly less…well…ridiculous.

“I’m very excited we will be receiving the compensation that really reflects the amount of work we do,” said Lauren Blackwell, one of the 11 writers, creative consultants, supervising producers, and showrunners of MTV’s Ridiculousness who will be covered under the show’s first WGAW contract. “I’m really looking forward to becoming part of this community that the WGA has built.”

Lauren Blackwell

“In terms of labor unions, as someone who hasn’t been in one my entire life, the WGAW is one of, if not the best, unions you hear about in terms of getting great contracts,” agreed fellow Ridiculousness scribe Ryan Conner. “I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.”

After discussions of unionizing began in early 2023, the writers filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and launched their public campaign in July. An election was held in September of 2023, with all writers voting yes. In January 2024, the campaign escalated during contract negotiations when Ridiculousness writers marched to the office of their production company, Superjacket, to appeal to show creator and host Rob Dyrdek to support a fair deal, followed by leafletting cast and crew during the first week of production.

“There’s a lot of unionism in my family, and I know that when you stick together, you get a deal,” Conner said. “When the campaign started, I talked to my brother who had organized many campaigns. After I talked to him, all my fears melted away. Our collective resolve was never shaken."

If unionizing is something you’re considering or someone approaches you with the idea, there’s the risk of it not going well, but I think the bigger risk is to not take the chance to stand up for what you believe in.

- Rick Wood

After working well below Guild standards for many years, the writers called the security that comes with new pay rates and health and pension benefits “game-changing.” Other features of the new agreement include the regulation of the use of AI-generated written material in accordance with the MBA; a grievance and arbitration procedure; holiday pay and retroactive back pay, pension and health contributions, and residuals from October 23, 2023 forward.

Ryan Conner. Photo by Moises Marquez.

“The writers of Ridiculousness have shown incredible unity, courage, and resolve throughout their organizing campaign,” said WGAW President Meredith Stiehm. “I’m proud to welcome them into our union.” 

Blackwell, Conner, and many of their Ridiculousness co-workers joined writers in solidarity on the picket lines in the summer of 2023. Blackwell recalls striking writers asking if the Ridiculousness team had upcoming events or social media pages on which they could post their support. 

“The support and backing of us was so overwhelming,” Blackwell said. “We really felt like we had an entire army of members that were there for whatever we needed, and it was a pretty special feeling.”

Ridiculousness writer Rick Wood recalled talking to longtime WGAW members who worked in scripted TV and film. Even though the genres might be different from Ridiculousness, Wood said he experienced only encouragement over his team’s campaign to join the Guild. 

Rick Wood

“People said, ‘Writing is writing,’” Wood said. “It was really inspiring to realize, all right, this can be done. We’re not completely alone in the world, and there are people who are fighting for something even larger.”

For Wood, who says he has been known to put his idealism over his job security, the result of both the 2023 MBA and the Ridiculousness campaigns strengthened his belief that others should pursue similar outcomes. 

“If unionizing is something you’re considering or someone approaches you with the idea, there’s the risk of it not going well,” Wood said, “but I think the bigger risk is to not take the chance to stand up for what you believe in. To be able to stand up for those kinds of things, it’s a real privilege, and to not exercise it just seems like a waste.”

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