WGA, AMPTP Agree to Resume Contract Talks on April 10

WGA Writers Contract Talks
Jim Cooke for Variety

UPDATED: The Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have agreed to resume contract talks on April 10.

The WGA responded on Friday to the invitation sent late Thursday by the AMPTP to renew the talks that ended March 23 after two weeks. A spokesman for The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers told Variety: “We are not commenting at this time.” The WGA also would not elaborate beyond a statement confirming that both sides had agreed to meet again April 10.

The talks ended after the WGA rejected the contract offer put on the table by the studios, and after the guild informed the AMPTP it would seek a strike authorization vote among its members.

The April 10 start date coincides with the start of the Jewish Passover holiday — which begins at sunset that evening and extends through Tuesday. The WGA suggested that talks run from April 10-14. The guild’s current Minimum Basic Agreement expires May 1.

The AMPTP said earlier in the week it had been waiting for a formal response to the offer it put on the table March 23. The WGA leaders, in a message to members a day later, sought a strike authorization and was highly critical of the AMPTP’s economic proposals, asserting that the studios are pushing the guild for cuts in its financially strapped health plan.

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David Young, the WGA West’s executive director and the lead negotiator for the 12,000-member guild, made the proposal in a letter to AMPTP president Carol Lombardini. He disclosed that the WGA had reduced the value of its economic demands by “almost 50%” before talks broke off.

“Thank you for your letter,” the missive began. “On Wednesday, March 23rd (sic), the WGA made further cuts to its initial list of demands, reducing the economic cost of the package by almost 50%. Late Thursday, the companies presented a Comprehensive Package Proposal that failed to address our essential economic issues. We made clear that evening that the guild rejected your proposal.”

“We are ready to return to the bargaining table to hear a revised proposal from the AMPTP that addresses the guild’s core issues,” he said. “Alternatively, in the absence of such a constructive proposal from you, we are prepared to respond with a package that addresses the inadequacies of your last offer.”

“I suggest that the parties meet from April 10-14 and seek to finalize a new agreement. I look forward to hearing from you,” Young’s letter concluded.