Illustration by Jennie Edwards

Guild & Industry

“A Lot of Money in Staff Writers’ Pockets!”

Cobra Kai staff writer Olga Lexell sees instant benefits of the new MBA.

Back in the writers’ room of Cobra Kai, WGAW member Olga Lexell experienced the benefits of the 2023 MBA immediately. 

“Right when we went back to work, my weekly pay went up immediately,” said Lexell, a staff writer who joined WGAW in February 2023. “Before the strike, I would not have gotten a script fee. I just turned in my script a few days ago, so I’m going to get a script fee which is huge for me. I’m on a show that’s very popular, so we’re likely to get the new residual bonus, which is really exciting to think about, and we’re going to have big increases in foreign streaming.” 

WGAW captain Olga Lexell at Fox Studios. Photo by J.W. Hendricks.

These financial gains mean that Lexell will have additional health coverage and enough of a financial cushion to make the search for their next job less daunting. “More health care and less uncertainty, that’s the biggest thing,” Lexell said. “I have a little more savings to go off of, which is really comforting. The script fee is huge. It really is a lot of money in staff writers’ pockets.”
The lack of compensation for writing scripts has been a WGA grievance for many years and has been a part of numerous past proposals. Securing the script fee provision in the 2023 MBA marked a milestone achievement for the Guild.
The WGA’s 2023 victory is not the first time that Lexell has reaped the benefit of a strong union contract. They had been a writers’, production, and showrunners’ assistant for several years when writers’ assistants and script coordinators organized under IATSE Local 871 in 2018. Local 871’s 2021 contract increased these new members’ pay, earning assistants and coordinators health benefits and pension which they had never previously enjoyed.

I’m very easy to convince to do stuff…I feel like it’s inherent to my personality. I’m like the person who sits in the front row of the classroom and raises their hand all the time.

- Olga Lexell

Already a member of 871’s Board of Trustees, Lexell independently organized a fundraiser to help pay off the dues of IATSE members during that contract campaign. Lexell’s fundraiser brought in $120,000, allowing 119 members to vote on their strike authorization.
“Then when I got promoted and I switched jobs, I felt like I had to contribute to my new union as well,” they added.

Contribute, they did. Picketing regularly at Fox Studios, Lexell answered lot coordinator Amy Berg’s call for captains and quickly stepped up to serve as a fellow lot coordinator along with Berg and Tyler Ruggeri for the bulk of the strike. A co-worker remarked that, when signing up, Lexell had the look of someone enlisting for duty. But Lexell, every inch a joiner, was happy to be put to work. 

“I’m very easy to convince to do stuff,” Lexell said. “I do a lot of community organizing, too, so I feel like it’s inherent to my personality. I really like contributing. I’m like the person who sits in the front row of the classroom and raises their hand all the time.”

A native of Ukraine, Lexell grew up in Chicago and attended film school at USC with the goal of becoming a writer. Although their mother had been a member of SEIU, Lexell said their union education came about first with the IWW Freelance Journalist union and then with IATSE.
“I’m glad the first people I met in the Guild were all Fox lot captains and coordinators because I feel like they’re all super-involved in the Guild,” Lexell continued. “It’s nice knowing now when I get involved that I already know all of those people really well, so it’s a little bit less daunting.”  

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