EXCLUSIVE, UPDATED with WGA statement: Management’s AMPTP wants to start contract talks with the WGA this month. In a letter today, AMPTP president Carol Lombardini told WGA West executive director David Young that she wants to start negotiations via teleconference for a new film and TV contract during the week of April 20, and that the two sides should exchange proposals by April 15. The current pact expires on May 1. The start of talks were delayed last month because of the industry’s COVID-19 shutdown. The AMPTP offered to extend the current pact until June 30, but the WGA reportedly wants a longer extension.
“The WGA will respond to the AMPTP after the negotiating committee meets,” the guild said tonight. It didn’t say when the committee will meet.
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“While the pandemic has disrupted all types of business and has been particularly hard on our industry,” Lombardini told Young, “it is incumbent on us to find new ways to get our work done. In the case of negotiations, we believe this can easily be accomplished by exchanging proposals as we normally do and conducting the negotiations through video and telephonic conferences.”
Here is Lombardini’s letter in full:
I hope you continue to be well as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this letter is to follow up on our conversation of April 3, 2020 and to urge the Guild to take the necessary steps to ensure that we have ample time to negotiate a successor agreement to the 2017 Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement, which expires on May 1, 2020, only four weeks from now.
As you know, the AMPTP responded to your request to extend the May 1, 2020 expiration date of the 2017 WGA Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement (“MBA”) by offering to extend the contract until June 30, 2020, an eight (8) week extension. Customarily, negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA take four to five weeks; our proposed date allows approximately double the amount of time (ten weeks) to reach an agreement. In our April 3rd telephone conversation, you indicated that the WGA remains undecided on our suggested extension date, and when I asked when we could expect a response, you said “sometime” before May 1. We find that response unacceptable.
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While the pandemic has disrupted all types of business and has been particularly hard on our industry, it is incumbent on us to find new ways to get our work done. In the case of negotiations, we believe this can easily be accomplished by exchanging proposals as we normally do and conducting the negotiations through video and telephonic conferences. Moving forward with the goal of reaching an agreement by June 30 is essential to protect the tens of thousands of people who depend on this industry for a livelihood, including writers represented by the WGA. Both of us share the responsibility of creating the conditions that will make it possible for them – many of whom have suffered severe hardships in the form of loss of income and access to health insurance – to return to work in an environment that enables them to earn a living without fear of further disruption.
To that end, the AMPTP-represented Companies propose that we exchange proposals by April 15, 2020 and begin negotiations by April 20, 2020 via video conference. For purposes of scheduling, we are available to meet at times during the week of April 20th and thereafter as agreed.
We respectfully ask that you provide us with the dates on which your bargaining committee is available so that we may set up a bargaining schedule and work earnestly toward reaching an agreement.
Stay safe and healthy.
Carol A. Lombardini
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