Thursday, May 23, 2024

Strike News: WGA Reps Meet with Studio Team to Discuss Future Talks (Read Members Letter Here) But Don’t Make Much Progress

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The Writers Guild reps met the with the folks from the studios, aka AMPTP, and sent this letter to members a little while ago. It seems like the long hot summer will continue into September at this rate. PS This is separate from the SAG strike. No talks there yet

Here’s the letter:

DEAR MEMBERS,

Ellen Stutzman and Tony Segall met with Carol Lombardini and AMPTP staff this afternoon for what Carol stated was a confidential sidebar to discuss resuming negotiations for a new MBA. Topics included – at the AMPTP’s insistence – press blackouts. Also discussed was a potential negotiation protocol and a preview of the issues each side intends to bring back to the table upon resumption

As of now, there is no agreement on these items, because the AMPTP said they needed to consult with their member studios before moving forward. 

Our intention after the confidential meeting was to send a simple email to you all letting you know we would get back to you when there was more specific information about resuming negotiations. 

However, before the negotiating committee even had a chance to meet, our communications department began hearing from the trades asking for comments on studio-leaked rumors of the contents of the confidential meeting. This is after the AMPTP spent much of the meeting emphasizing the need for a press blackout. 

Since the studios are leaking to the press we need to let you know what was said in the meeting. 

First, Carol informed us that the DGA deal would be the deal on any pattern issues. 

She stated they were willing to increase their offer on a few writer-specific TV minimums – and willing to talk about AI – but that they were not willing to engage on the preservation of the writers’ room, or success-based residuals. She did not indicate willingness to address screenwriter issues, Appendix A issues, and many of the other proposals that remain on our list.

On behalf of the Guild, Ellen reiterated the expectation that all the fundamental issues over which writers have been striking these past three months would be addressed in this new contract, and that no segment of the membership would be left behind. 

Ellen made clear that, in addition to a comprehensive response from the AMPTP on our proposals in all work areas, we will need to address issues arising from the strike, including a health care benefit extension and additional plan funding, reinstatement of striking writers, and arbitration of disputes arising during the strike. We will also seek the right for individual WGA members to honor other unions’ picket lines as they have honored ours during this strike. 

Carol’s response – something she repeated three times during the meeting – echoes what was written in the AMPTP press statement yesterday: “People just want to get back to work.” 

We agree, with the caveat that those conditions that have made writers’ jobs increasingly untenable must first be addressed. 

Your committee remains willing to engage with the companies and resume negotiations in good faith to make a fair deal for all writers, even with this early confirmation that the AMPTP playbook continues. But rest assured, this committee does not intend to leave anyone behind, or make merely an incremental deal to conclude this strike.  

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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