The NFL Players Association has weighed in on the threatened writers strike, urging management’s AMPTP to “negotiate in good faith towards a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement that reflects the hard work of thousands of writers.”

Writers Guild

“There is no question that the AMPTP employers can afford to make a reasonable deal,” the leaders of the players union said in a letter sent today to AMPTP president Carol Lombardini and obtained by Deadline (read it below). “The top six companies brought in $51 billion in profits in 2016.”

Signed by NFLPA president Eric Winston, executive director DeMaurice Smith and VP Business and Legal Affairs Sean Sansiveri – who also is a member of the WGA – the letter says “the guild-sponsored health benefit plan needs a significant infusion of money to keep pace with the outsized increases in health care costs faced by all Americans,” and claims that “the average television writer’s pay decreased by about 23% in the last two years.”

Those are all key talking points the WGA made in the run-up to negotiations, except that the 23% decline in wages was slightly miscast: That’s not how much the average TV writer’s pay has declined, but rather how much the average TV writer-producer’s pay has declined, according to a two-year survey conducted by the guild. WGA reports show that the average wages of TV writers actually have been on the rise during the past 10 years.

The letters — and the misstatement of the WGA’s data — now are posted on the WGA West website.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka sent a similar statement – including the same mistake – in support of the WGA. “The top six companies,” he said, “made $51 billion in profits in 2016. Yet, the average television writer’s pay decreased by 23% over the last two years.”

The WGA East is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, but the WGA West is not.

Negotiations for a new WGA film and TV contract continue today. The current contract expires at 12:01 AM May 2.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Ms. Lombardini,

The NFL Players Association is proud to support the Writers Guild of America, East and the Writers Guild of America, West as they negotiate an industry-wide collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. We write to urge the AMPTP to negotiate in good faith towards a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement that reflects the hard work of thousands of writers.

The NFLPA has a proud history of enduring hard fought labor disputes to advance the rights and integrity of our members. Through these efforts, the players of the National Football League have established and preserved foundational health protections, mandatory safety standards, and important economic benefits. The NFLPA, like the WGA East and West, represents professional employees whose talent and hard work generate enormous profits for their employers. Our unions negotiate over essential terms of employment, and we ensure the employers honor their commitments to our members.

There is no question that the AMPTP employers can afford to make a reasonable deal. The top six companies brought in $51 billion in profits in 2016. Whereas, the average television writer’s pay decreased by about 23% in the last two years, and the Guild-sponsored health benefit plan needs a significant infusion of money to keep pace with the outsized increases in health care costs faced by all Americans. As such, we applaud the members of the Writers Guilds who recently voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if their joint negotiating committee concludes, at contract expiration, that a work stoppage is the only way to obtain reasonable contract terms.

In the face of huge profits, declining employee pay and the prospect of losing health benefits – the NFLPA and its members – the nearly 1,700 football players of the National Football League – stand in solidarity with the Writers Guilds as they continue to negotiate for a fair and just contract for writers and their families.