The WGA's putting the blame for the breakdown of talks — unequivocally — on the AMPTP, accusing it of delivering an ultimatum and then walking away from the negotiations tonight.

In a message to members, WGA negotiating chariman John Bowman said the ultimatum included the demand that the WGA concede most of its Internet proposal as a precondition for continued bargaining.

"The AMPTP insists we let them do to the Internet what they did to home video," he said. "We received a similar ultimatum through back channels prior to the discussions of November 4th. At that time, we were assured that if we took DVDs off the table, we would get a fair offer on new media issues. That offer never materialized."

Bowman noted that the WGA's never delivered an ultimatum since negotiations started. And he said the AMPTP walked out while the WGA was prepping a counteroffer.      

"We remain ready and willing to negotiate, no matter how intransigent our bargaining partners are, because the stakes are simply too high," he concluded. "We were prepared to counter their proposal tonight, and when any of them are ready to return to the table, we’re here, ready to make a fair deal."

Here's Bowman's entire statement —

Today, after three days of discussions, the AMPTP came back to us with a proposal that included a total rejection of our proposal on Internet streaming of December 3rd.

They are holding to their offer of a $250 fixed residual for unlimited one year streaming after a six-week window of free use.  They still insist on the DVD rate for Internet downloads.   

They refuse to cover original material made for new media.   

This offer was accompanied by an ultimatum:  the AMPTP demands we give up several of our proposals, including Fair Market Value (our protection against vertical integration and self-dealing), animation, reality, and, most crucially, any proposal that uses distributor’s gross as a basis for residuals.  This would require us to concede most of our Internet proposal as a precondition for continued bargaining.  The AMPTP insists we let them do to the Internet what they did to home video.

We received a similar ultimatum through back channels prior to the discussions of November 4th.  At that time, we were assured that if we took DVDs off the table, we would get a fair offer on new media issues.   That offer never materialized.   

We reject the idea of an ultimatum.  Although a number of items we have on the table are negotiable, we cannot be forced to bargain with ourselves.  The AMPTP has many proposals on the table that are unacceptable to writers, but we have never delivered ultimatums. 

As we prepared our counter-offer, at 6:05 p.m., Nick Counter came and said to us, in the mediator’s presence:  “We are leaving.  When you write us a letter saying you will take all these items off the table, we will reschedule negotiations with you.”   Within  minutes, the AMPTP had posted a lengthy statement announcing the breakdown of negotiations.

We remain ready and willing to negotiate, no matter how intransigent our bargaining partners are, because the stakes are simply too high.  We were prepared to counter their proposal tonight, and when any of them are ready to return to the table, we’re here, ready to make a fair deal.

John F. Bowman

Chairman,  Negotiating Committee

Contract 2007

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