UPDATE with more info: Responding to press inquiries, the WGA says it’s willing to return to the bargaining table “whenever the AMPTP is ready to meet and invites us back” – even as WGA leaders are urging their members to authorize a strike. 

The talks for a new film and TV contract broke off Thursday, and even though both sides have now committed to returning to the bargaining table post haste, just how far apart the two sides remain is evidenced by the fact that they can’t even agree about who broke off the talks, with each blaming the other.

Even so, it appears that both sides really do believe that the other walked away first – meaning that neither side is lying about it as they prepare to resume negotiations.

“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,” the AMPTP said on Friday. “Keeping the industry working is in everyone’s best interests, and we are ready to return to negotiations when they are.”

The guild sees it completely different, and says they have a tape to prove it. “Last Thursday night at 9 p.m., the AMPTP advised the WGA via voice mail that ‘we don’t see any need to meet tomorrow,’ meaning Friday March, 24th, the last day scheduled for negotiations,” the WGA said in a statement. “That’s their right, and the WGA will recommence negotiations whenever the AMPTP is ready to meet and invites us back.”

But the AMPTP spokesman said that management had good reason to send the voice mail – and has an email to prove it. “We provided them with a package proposal on Thursday, and instead of responding to our proposals, they said they had no moves and were going to get a strike authorization vote. They were the ones who walked away when they said they were going for a strike authorization, and then they sent us an email saying they would get back to us the next day, and they didn’t.”

Responding to the WGA’s statement that it’s willing to return to the bargaining table whenever the AMPTP is, the AMPTP spokesman said: “We’ve not heard back from the WGA directly, but as we’ve indicated from the beginning, the AMPTP is ready to talk when they are.”

Asked if the AMPTP is ready to return to the bargaining table as soon as Monday, the spokesman said, “We’re ready when they are.”

The WGA West sent out a letter to members today:

As you know, our scheduled negotiations with the AMPTP concluded last Friday without a deal,” the WGA West said today in a letter to their members. “Despite the fact that we have withdrawn almost 50% of our economic asks, the companies have yet to put an economic offer on the table. Even with their record profits there is, apparently, no money for writers. That was unacceptable on Friday; it is unacceptable now.

With our contract set to expire May 1st, the WGA negotiating committee unanimously recommended that the WGAW board and WGAE council approve a strike authorization vote. Since then, both the Board and Council have voted unanimously to send the strike authorization vote to the membership.

Voting will be conducted online and at special membership meetings in mid-April. At these meetings our elected leadership will lay out the full status of negotiations as well as our bargaining strategy moving toward contract deadline. After all member questions have been addressed, the strike authorization vote will proceed. We will update you after the balloting and meeting dates have been finalized.

If the strike authorization vote passes, the Board and Council, in consultation with the negotiating committee, are empowered to call a strike, if necessary, after the contract expires at midnight on May 1st.

Our goal remains to negotiate the best possible deal before that date. We ask for your continuing solidarity and support.