The WGA and the AMPTP continue to move closer to a May 11 start date for negotiations for a new film and TV contract, and for an extension of their current pact from May 1 to June 30. The negotiations had been set to begin on March 23, but were delayed because of the industry’s COVID-19 shutdown.
One outstanding issue remains, however, until the guild and the AMPTP are in full agreement on the start of the negotiations: the WGA’s proposal that “as a further means of addressing the immediate impact of the pandemic,” the labor and management trustees of the Health Fund must adopt, on or before April 24, “an amendment to the plan extending eligibility to plan participants who will lose coverage through the end of the year because they fail to meet the earnings threshold during this time period and otherwise don’t have extended care points to continue their coverage.”
WGA West executive director David Young spelled out the guild’s position in an April 15 letter to AMPTP president Carol Lombardini, saying that the guild was “prepared to agree” to the contract extension and to the bargaining timeline if the Health Fund trustees agreed to extend coverage eligibility.
Lombardini, who had originally proposed the June 30 extension – the WGA wanted to extend the contract into September – responded to Young in an April 17 letter, saying that “The AMPTP appreciates the WGA’s agreement with the AMPTP’s proposed extension of the Minimum Basic Agreement until June 30, 2020. The AMPTP also agrees with the WGA’s proposal to exchange proposals on May 1, 2020 and to commence negotiations on May 11, 2020. Since these negotiations will be conducted in an unusual manner, kindly call me at your convenience so that we may discuss the details surrounding the conduct of the upcoming negotiations.”
She told Young, however, that she’ll have to have “further internal discussions with regard to the entirely separate matter of writers’ health coverage which you referenced in your letter and will respond once those discussions have concluded. In the meantime, I look forward to starting what will hopefully be a productive and successful negotiation.”