WGA talks on hold

Guild mum on Alliance proposal

Despite the town’s deep worries about a strike, negotiations on a new Writers Guild contract probably won’t resume for at least another month.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which acts as the bargaining arm for studios and nets, has proposed to the WGA that talks launch again Sept. 17 and continue without a break until the Oct. 31 contract expiration, the AMPTP announced Thursday.

The WGA’s response was vague in terms of whether that proposal is acceptable. “We are looking forward to negotiating a fair deal,” guild spokesman Neal Sacharow said.

If the WGA accepts the dates, two months will have passed since the initial round of bargaining when the talks resume. Negotiators will have only six weeks to make a deal before the WGA contract runs out — even though bargaining on the key issue of how to compensate talent for use and reuse of work in the burgeoning world of digital platforms is expected to be complex and acrimonious.

The WGA’s election results will be announced Sept. 21, but those contests are not expected to change the make-up of the leadership significantly.

Many believe that the WGA and AMPTP are so far apart that no deal will be reached by Oct. 31, with the WGA opting to wait for SAG and the DGA to make deals before their contracts expire next June 30.

Two days of initial talks yielded little other than finger-pointing as each side blasted the other and turned down its proposals. The AMPTP was so perturbed by the WGA’s initial rejection of a proposal for a three-year study of residuals that it took the idea off the table, leaving only its proposed revamp of residuals into a formula in which talent would be paid only after basic costs are recouped.

In the letter to WGA West exec director David Young and WGA East exec director Mona Mangan, AMPTP’s Nick Counter and Carol Lombardini took issue again with how the guild handled itself at last month’s talks.

“When we resume negotiations, we expect the guilds to provide full and detailed responses to the producers’ proposals, dated July 16,” they wrote. “When we last convened on July 18, you simply rejected all of those proposal on a blanket basis without providing any rationale for your rejections.”

The duo said they’d break for AFTRA pension and health plan meetings on Sept. 27 and 28 and agreed with Mangan’s suggestion that the WGA pension and health plan meetings set for Sept. 24 and 25 be delayed.

Counter and Lombardini also said that they don’t want to meet at WGA offices — as was done at the 2001 negotiations — because doing so makes it difficult for AMPTP reps to work effectively. The talks have been held at AMPTP offices in Encino.

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