ABC, writers reopen talks

Alphabet, WGA relaunch contract negotiations

This article was updated on Oct. 11, 2006.

HOLLYWOOD — The Writers Guild of America East and ABC have relaunched long-stalled contract negotiations covering 225 newswriters, editors and producers, who have been working for well over a year under an expired contract.

In the first negotiating session since June, the WGA reported the network presented a revised five-year financial package that included removing writer-producers from the union, creating a surplus of newswriters and triggering probable layoffs; a 9.5% increase over the five years for the majority of guild members; a reduction in night differential; and creation of a two-tiered workforce.

The WGA East said ABC’s proposal would cause many current and future temp employees to lose their health insurance.

The two sides met Wednesday at ABC headquarters in Gotham with a federal mediator, but did not set a date for reconvening. The employees have been working under a contract that expired Jan. 31, 2005.

An ABC rep disputed the WGA’s assertions, saying that if a contract is ratified by Oct. 31, annual base wage increases for both staff and temporary employees would total 10.25% over three years; no temporary employees will lose health care benefits; there’s no two-tier pay system for staff or temporary employees; the fear of layoffs is “much exaggerated” and the producer issue is “nothing more than what already is allowed at most stations.”

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