WGA Negotiators Call for Strike Authorization
Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have asked their 12,000 members for strike authorization, following two weeks of negotiations.
The WGA leaders have asserted that the talks with the Alliance of Motion Pictures & Television Producers, which launched March 13, have been unproductive and contain two major rollbacks in the guild’s health plan. The AMPTP accused the WGA of breaking off the talks.
“First, they have demanded that we make cuts to the plan – $10 million in the first year alone,” the WGA negotiating team said in a letter to members. “In return, they will allow us to fund the plan with money diverted from our own salaries. More, they’ve demanded the adoption of a draconian measure in which any future shortfalls to the plan would be made up by automatic cuts in benefits – and never by increases in employer contributions.”
“This, too, is unacceptable. The package, taken as a whole, is unacceptable – and we would be derelict in our duty if we accepted it.”
Sources have told Variety that the negotiations have centered in recent days on the health plan, which has been forced to draw on reserves in recent years.
The AMPTP responded to the guild’s letter Friday evening in a statement: “The WGA broke off negotiations at an early stage in the process in order to secure a strike vote rather than directing its efforts at reaching an agreement at the bargaining table. Keeping the industry working is in everyone’s best interests, and we are ready to return to negotiations when they are.”
The WGA accused the companies of offering “barely a single hard-dollar gain for writers” at a time when the six major media conglomerates are seeing $51 billion in yearly profits, acccording to the guild’s calculations.
The strike authorization vote — approved unanimously by the WGA negotiators — will take place with the current three-year contract expiring in five weeks on May 1. It comes 10-years after a bitter strike against the production companies that lasted 100 days, after WGA leaders sought a strike authorization a month before the expiration.