The Writers Guild of America East and ABC have modified their offers in the contentious negotiations over a new contract for about 225 news writers and producers.
Friday’s session was the first since ABC made a “last, best and final” offer on Oct. 4, with the condition that the deal would only be available if ratified by Oct. 31.
According to sources close to the talks, the net bumped its pay offer at the session by 3% for the final year to lift the overall pay raise to 12.5% over 39 months. But the WGA said the offer was still well below the guild’s proposed wage increases, as well as below industry or cost-of-living standards.
Additionally, ABC hasn’t changed its demand to remove writer-producers from guild coverage, insisting that it needs the change to compete, while the WGA contends that such a step would compromise editorial independence.
The guild said it offered a package with more than a dozen withdrawals of demands, addressing ABC’s demands for more flexibility in the employment, scheduling of temporary employees and the network radio work day. It also said it countered the “unacceptable” demand for the removal of WABC-TV show producers from the union by offering ABC contract language that would allow them more flexibility to manage producers.
The employees have been working under a contract that expired Jan. 31, 2005.