WGA negotiations to resume Oct. 4

Contract talks take full two-week break

Despite a looming contract expiration on Halloween, the bitter battle over a new deal for showbiz writers won’t resume for another week.

The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers agreed Tuesday to restart negotiations on Oct. 4 at AMPTP headquarters in Encino.

Neither side commented further. Negotiators had indicated last week that talks wouldn’t start until next week at the earliest because several reps are meeting this week as trustees of pension and health plans.

Still, the new start date represents a full two-week break from the point talks broke off last Thursday and will mark only the sixth day of negotiations since July. Thus far, the public posturing of the WGA and AMPTP has featured accusations of greed, duplicity and unprofessionalism.

Those signals have led many to conclude that negotiators aren’t particularly eager to rush back to the bargaining table to resolve the complex contract issues raised by the growth of new-media platforms, changes in the revenue landscape and AMPTP’s demand for a revamp of the residuals system that would pay talent only after basic costs are recouped.

And the unhurried pace of the talks is likely to buttress the widespread belief that the two sides are so far apart on so many fundamental issues that the talks won’t yield a deal by Oct. 31. Although there have been worries that the WGA might strike at that point, the guild still hasn’t scheduled a strike authorization vote for members.

Instead, most labor observers believe the WGA will instruct its members to continue working under terms and conditions of the expired contract in hopes that the DGA and SAG can make an acceptable deal.

The DGA is further along in its preparation for bargaining, having held the first meeting of its negotiating committee on Sept. 15.

SAG will start its wages and working conditions process to seek input from members early next year.

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