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Writers roiled over date

Guilds face April 10 deadline for launching mediation

The battle at the Writers Guild of America, where a bitter dispute over finances is raging between the WGA East and WGA West, has turned into a fight over dates for mediation.

The WGA East announced Tuesday it would be willing to meet on July 20 and 25 with mediator Barry Winograd and noted it can’t meet earlier because it’s involved in conducting a rerun of its Council election and negotiations with CBS and ABC.

The guilds face an April 10 deadline for launching mediation, but WGA East president Herb Sargent noted, “There is nothing that prevents the guilds from extending the time period.”

The WGA West responded by accusing the East of stalling and said its board would meet next Monday to consider an extension of the deadline.

“In his letter Herb Sargent selects two dates for mediation that occur more than three months after the mandated mediation deadline,” the WGA West said. “This is consistent with the WGAE’s practice of refusing to address this constitutional issue and delaying mediation as long as possible.”

The West is accusing the WGA East of cheating it out of more than $500,000 per year in dues by failing to observe provisions of the 51-year-old affiliation agreement that set up the two branches, plus another $500,000 annually in services it provides to WGA East members. The WGA East disputes the numbers and has accused the WGA West of union busting.

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