Signs of scribe support

WGA members back continuing negotiations

Hollywood writers have offered mostly solid support to their leaders amid the recessed negotiations with studios.

About 400 members of the Writers Guild of America West attended a low-key but intense session Monday evening at the Sheraton Universal hotel and indicated that they agree with the Guild’s decision to negotiate past the May 2 contract expiration.

Negotiations are scheduled to resume Wednesday between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The talks broke off last Wednesday with the WGA rejecting the AMPTP’s three-year offer and proposing a one-year deal along the lines of SAG’s one-year agreement earlier this year.

Monday’s session, chaired by WGA West Daniel Petrie Jr., reviewed the details of the most recent offers, along with the ramifications of the contract expiration — notably, the elimination of the contract’s no strike-no lockout provisions. Those who attended said they generally backed the tactic of offering a one-year deal with relatively small increases as a way of removing the potential disruption of a work stoppage. But others said that the Guild needs to take a hard-line position on the issue of DVD residuals, which would not be increased under the Guild’s proposed one-year deal.

The AMPTP has not rejected the one-year deal, but has expressed a strong preference for a three-year deal. However, the Guild’s leaders have indicated that the AMPTP’s proposal falls far short of a deal that the members would ratify given that it has no increases for DVD or video-on-demand.

One member noted that the turnout was about half the number that had come to a membership meeting in 2001 during a break in negotiations.

“I think that a lot of people feel somewhat resigned to not getting a particularly good deal this time around,” he added.

The meeting was open only to the 8,000 WGA West members.

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