Thomas Short, president of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, has taken another shot at the Writers Guild of America.
In a press release issued Wednesday, the IATSE topper took issue for the second time in two weeks over the WGA’s defense of its strategy in delaying contract talks with studios and nets until next summer – particularly the impact of such tactics.
Short cited stats from 2001, when the WGA negotiated past the contract deadline, causing a sharp drop off or “de facto” strike in the subsequent months. He asserted there had been a 27% decline in pension contributions from employers for production workers in the two quarters after the WGA deal was reached that year.
“The numbers speak for themselves and show that the WGA leadeship is totally out of touch with the impact of their foolhardy tactics,” Short said in a statement. “It comes as no shock that the WGA is ignoring history. Perhaps they see no noticeable pattern because writers continue to write and deliver scripts throughout thesse disputes.”
The WGA had no immediate comment Wednesday. WGA West president Patric Verrone said last week that “saber rattling” by the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers was designed to frighten writers and co-workers both above and below the line.
“The AMPTP asserts that, by refusing to negotiate early, we will force our employers to make rash business decisions to prepare for an inevitable strike,” Verrone said in a recent message to members. “That simply flies in the face of the last eighteen years of Writers Guild history. In the past five WGA MBA negotiations, we have been able to reach agreement without a strike, even though, in most cases, we did not begin negotiations more than a few months before the contract expiration date.”
Short’s salvo is the latest outburst in a long line of hostilities between the unions, which have differed over which union should have jurisdiction over writers on reality shows and animation. For its part, WGA West exec David Young has accused Short of being a shill for the companies and using strikebreaking tactics to prevent the WGA from organizing “America’s Next Top Model.”
“Figures don’t lie,” Short said Wednesday. “Liars figure.”