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IATSE’s Tom Short weighs in, calls WGA “irresponsible and irrational”

First reaction to the AMPTP’s announcement of the breakdown of talks with the WGA comes from Tom Short, president of the Intl. Alliance of the Theatrical Stage Employes, which reps over 100,000 below-the-line employees.

Short’s had a long, bitter history with the WGA, blaming the guild leaders for their tactics of refusing early negotiations and attempting to organize IATSE turf in animation and reality.

“I don’t believe the WGA ever intended to bargain in good faith,” said Short. “And they are destroying a lot of lives in the process. As a result of their irresponsible and irrational behavior, the number of IA members who have lost work is fast approaching 40,000 people representing members all over the US and Canada. Unless and until the WGA leadership starts behaving responsibly, which is unlikely, not only wages, health insurance coverage and pension benefits will be lost. Homes and businesses will be lost, too.”

The entire IATSE press release is here:

In the wake of the collapse this afternoon of talks between striking Writers Guild of America and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, IATSE President Thomas C. Short has issued a scathing denunciation of the WGA’s lack of good faith bargaining.

Short, who has been critical of the lack of experience and competence of WGA leadership since late last year, predicted the breakdown of talks, and has repeatedly accused the WGA’s Patric Verrone and David Young of irresponsibility in their pursuit
of a new contract with the producers.

Beginning with the cancellation of their own scheduled early negotiations that were to have taken place in January, the WGA has intended, according to Short, that the strike take place and disrupt not only the film and television industries in Los Angeles,but ancillary businesses as well. The halt in production caused by the strike has now spread nationwide and will soon reach beyond the US as several high profile feature films have been cancelled or put on hold until the strike is resolved.

Likening the WGA leadership to “a huge clown car that’s only missing the hats and horns,” Short has been infuriated that among the WGA contract points has been the illegal and unethical poaching of IA members in reality television now covered by IATSE Editors Local 700, and animation writers, members of Local 839, who have been covered by the IA for over 50 years. Said Short, “Even if the AMPTP wanted to give the WGA jurisdiction of animation writers they couldn’t. It’s not theirs to give. Those are IATSE members who have been part of our International for over half a century.”

With over 100 television shows shuttered and numerous features off the schedule,the resulting devastation to members of the IA is growing daily. “I don’t believe the WGA ever intended to bargain in good faith,” said Short. “And they are destroying a lot of lives in the process. As a result of their irresponsible and irrational behavior, the number of IA members who have lost work is fast approaching 40,000 people representing members all over the US and Canada. Unless and until the WGA leadership starts behaving responsibly, which is unlikely, not only wages, health insurance coverage and pension benefits will be lost. Homes and businesses will be lost, too.”

The IATSE is an International Union that represents members employed in the stagecraft, motion picture and television production, and trade shows industries throughout the United States, its Territories, and Canada. (For background information on the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees: www.iatse-intl.org.)

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