WME ups pay for assistants
Talent agency William Morris Endeavor, together with the film-focused Endeavor Content, has announced a raft of measures to improve working conditions for assistants in the agencies’ Los Angeles, Nashville and New York offices.
IQ can confirm that assitants in WME’s UK offices are also receiving a pay rise, of £3,000, with an annual base increase of £1,000. For all new hires, the starting salary will be between £23,000 and £28,000. Changes are also to be rolled out shortly at WME’s Australian offices too, according to Deadline,.
Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel laid out the new plans in a company email last week, raising minimum pay for new hires and assistants in the US from $15 an hour to $18 an hour. Assistants will receive a further $2 an hour after completing their first year at the agencies.
The company also announced plans to further increase the minimum salary for all to $20 an hour by August 2021.
Assistants will also now be eligible for ten hours of overtime a week without pre-approval and will be considered for “discretionary bonuses”.
In addition to the pay rise, all WME and Endeavor Content assistants in the US will be eligible for two years of monthly medical premiums paid by the company. Assistants and coordinators will also have access to student loan relief of $1,000 after the first anniversary of hire, with an additional $2,000 after the second anniversary of hire.
“We congratulate WME on joining the growing ranks of entertainment companies committed to improving pay and work conditions for support staff”
The agencies are also making $50 a month available as reimbursement towards mobile phone expenses and, in a more symbolic move, inserting assistant names into email addresses, which previously were nameless.
According to the agency, the changes were planned to be announced sooner – fellow agencies CAA, ICM and UTA raised assistant pay in early 2019 and early 2020 respectively, in response to the #PayUpHollywood movement – but were pushed back due to the financial implications of the Covid-19 crisis.
WME is among major talent agencies to implement cost cutting measures in the past few months due to the pandemic, with around 20% of its global workforce subject to lay-offs, furloughing or pay and working hours reductions.
“While #PayUpHollywood is not privy to the contents of the WME email that was sent, the initial news announcing pay increases and additional benefits for support staff is heartening,” comment the movement’s founders, Liz Alper and Deirdre Mangan.
“We encourage WME to continue monitoring support staff workload and treatment to ensure the wellbeing of their most vulnerable employees.
“We look forward to the details of these initiatives and congratulate WME on joining the growing ranks of entertainment companies committed to improving pay and work conditions for support staff. It is proof that change, though slow, does happen, as long as allies and assistants continue speaking out.”
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