Feds side with AMPTP over core status

The WGA strike ended Feb. 12 but the recriminations continue.

The federal government has sided with the AMPTP companies in a battle with the WGA over whether the guild acted illegally in its treatment of 28 writers who filed for financial core status during the strike.

The National Labor Relations Board ruling — announced Monday — triggers a full hearing of the case before an administrative law judge in Los Angeles in the next few months.

“This is a pending legal matter and the guild will defend itself fully at the NLRB hearing,” said WGA spokesman Neal Sacharow.

NLRB general counsel Richard Meisberg upheld the AMPTP complaint alleging the WGA violated the law by calling on members to shun the 28 writers. The move overturned an earlier ruling by the NLRB’s regional director favoring the WGA.

The case involves an April letter penned by WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship at the same time that the guild disclosed the names of the 28 writers. “This handful of members who went financial core, resigning from the union yet continuing to receive the benefits of a union contract, must be held at arm’s length by the rest of us and judged accountable for what they are — strikebreakers whose actions placed everything for which we fought so hard at risk,” the duo wrote.

The AMPTP’s complaint asserted that telling WGA members to shun the fi-core writers amounted to a “prohibited retaliation” against those writers for exercising their rights.

When the AMPTP filed the initial complaint in April, the guild said the charges were “baseless and represent an intrusion by the studios into an internal union matter.”

The AMPTP noted at the time that the writers were within their legal rights to elect financial core status and that WGA leaders were seeking to deny employment to those writers in the future in violation of federal labor law. The WGA respnded at the time by saying said it had not encouraged anyone to refuse to hire the 28 writers — most of whom were working on soap operas.

By going fi-core, writers withhold the portion of dues spent by the WGA on noncontract activities — while still being able to write scripts. Fi-core writers pay 1.9% less in dues than regular members; they also can’t run for guild office or vote on contracts or in any WGA election.

The guild has yet to disclose names of those involved with other strikebreaking that took place during the 100-day work stoppage.

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