Negotiations for a new WGA film and TV contract recessed today in observance of the Good Friday holiday. The talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will resume on Monday and are expected to continue throughout the week as the WGA East and West begin polling their members for the authorization to call a strike if negotiations fail to produce a fair contract by May 1, when their current contract expires.
The union had said earlier this month that April 14 would be the last day of bargaining unless the producers responded earlier with a revised set of proposals that address the guilds’ “core issues,” so today’s news that talks will contunie all week counts as an extension. Negotiations began on March 13 and then stalled after two weeks, with each side accusing the other of walking away from the bargaining table first. Talkss resumed on Monday after a two-week hiatus. The guild’s current contract expires at midnight May 1.
The main issues are more pay for TV writers and a rescue of the WGA’s failing Health Plan, which faces projected deficits of $145 million over the next three years.
The WGA East and West leaders say they began the negotiations with “two truths” that formed their bargaining position: that the major companies earned a record $51 billion in profits last year and that “the economic position of writers has declined sharply in the last five or so years. Screenwriters have been struggling for a long time. They are now joined by television writers, for whom short seasons are at the core of the problem. In the last two years alone, the average salary of TV writer-producers fell by 23%. Those declines have not been offset by compensation in other areas. In Basic Cable and new media, our script fees and residual formulas continue to trail far behind those in broadcast – even though these new platforms are every bit as profitable as the old model.”