WGA-CBS talks grinding on

Talks between Writers Guild of America and CBS will resume at 10 a.m. today after a marathon 29-hour negotiating session ended yesterday evening without the two sides reaching an agreement.

The two groups were seeking to replace a three-year deal that expired Monday night.

275 staffers affected

At issue is a contract covering some 275 news writers, producers, promotion writers and editors at the CBS radio and television networks. Those workers are at CBS-owned and -operated facilities in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

According to a spokesman for WGA, the talks were adjourned late yesterday at the request of CBS. The spokesman said negotiators for both sides were exhausted and would resume at CBS’ Gotham headquarters today.

Serious ramifications

WGA negotiators have previously said that the contract proposals the network is offering could have serious ramifications on union personnel. Recent discussions hinge on health benefits for temporary workers, a cap in health-care contributions and guild jurisdiction.

The union contends that CBS’ proposals would increase the workloads of an already burdened staff. Moreover, WGA chief negotiator Mona Mangen maintains that the union is not willing to give up provisions won in past contracts.

A CBS spokeswoman said the network would not comment on the talks until there was resolution.

Some issues unsettled

According to the WGA hotline, several critical issues have yet to be settled. In addition, the hotline suggested all WGA members covered under the contract report for work, but to take all personal items home with them at day’s end.

Earlier in the negotiations, guild members voted to give the negotiating team strike authorization, which means that should the negotiators decide to strike, they’ve got the membership’s OK. Such an action is a typical first step to any negotiation, although as the talks continue that action becomes more valuable.

The WGA struck CBS in 1987 and has since amassed a large strike fund war chest to support members should they walk.

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