WGA says it may announce interim agreements with some AMPTP companies

The WGA is in discussions with several smaller AMPTP signatory companies and expects to have some news to announce regarding interim agreements with them as early as next week, WGA negotiating committee head John Bowman said Wednesday.

Bowman would not identify any of the companies. He said the proposal on the table for the interim agreements are substantially the same as the WGA has hit an impasse on with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, including the controversial issue of expanding WGA’s jurisdiction to include reality and animation scribes.

“We’ll probably make some announcements next week or the week after,” Bowman said. Guild this past weekend confirmed it would approach individual AMPTP members for bargaining talks in the wake of the Dec. 7 breakdown of talks with the AMPTP.

“There are a lot of individual companies who think the AMPTP’s position is ridiculous,” he said. But he also cautioned that the guild will only ink interim deals if it gets a “critical mass” of them, “large enough to have an impact” and put pressure on the majors, otherwise the prospect of having only a handful of writers going back to work could have a bad impact on morale and solidarity among the membership.

“Our strength as a guild is our unity and solidarity. Anything that weakens that is something we’re reluctant to do,”he said. Bowman also conceded that the real crux of the settleing the strike remains cutting deals with the seven majors that dominate the AMPTP.

“Interim agreements are fine but what we really want is to get back to the table,” with the majors, Bowman said.

Bowman spoke to reporters on the steps of LA City Hall following a 90-minute hearing held by an LA City Council committee on the economic impact of the now seven-week-old strike. Estimates from economists and others about the hit to the local economy on the shutdown of so much production ranged from $400 million if the strike goes five months to $220 million so far and counting.

The LA City Council is expecting to pass a motion later today urging both sides in the contract battle to resume negotiations immediately.

— Cynthia Littleton

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