Guild members have been working under expired pact

The Writers Guild of America has reported little progress in negotiations with ABC.

Talks resumed this week in New York after a three-month recess in bargaining; no new negotiations have been scheduled on the contract, which expired Jan. 31. The 225 newswriters, editors and producers covered by the guild have been working under terms of the expired pact.

The network presented a revised comprehensive package proposal Tuesday that the guild said was largely identical to the Feb. 15 version.

“The guild expressed its dissatisfaction with the proposal, specifically with the company’s proposed ability for unlimited and unrestricted use of temporary employees, as well as its continued insistence on decreasing seniority protection in the event of a layoff,” the WGA said in a statement.

Guild also said ABC had rejected its proposals on acting editor fees for radio employees and the election of pension/retirement benefits for new workers.

The two sessions this week were the first since late April and the 13th and 14th since bargaining launched Jan. 5.

WGA East exec director Mona Mangan said the net’s stance is “inflexible,” and that Disney’s profits and ABC’s ratings are on the rise.

“It has become increasingly clear that ABC’s proposals are intended to force some newswriters and producers out of the guild and erode the pay scales and union protections of others,” Mangan told Daily Variety. “News on the cheap isn’t good for anyone and will adversely affect ABC’s audience, advertisers and shareholders — everyone loses.”

ABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover said in response, “The WGA is refusing to deal with the realities of the news business in terms of its economics and the competitive nature.”

Hoover noted that many of ABC competitors are non-union and able to make deals with staffers at rates below the offer to the WGA.

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