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WGA STRIKE UPDATE: WGA, AMPTP Trade Barbs

Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Responds to Writers Guild of America Letter to Members 12/07/2007 09:51:00 AM Eastern

With the increasing feeling in the television industry that current strike talks may break off at any moment, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers traded acrimonious statements Friday.

As the sides prepared to resume talks, WGA leaders Patric Verrone and David Winship sent a letter to members Friday morning to address “some of the disturbing rumors and back-channel communications” they claimed to be hearing.

“For one, we’ve heard that one or more of the companies are prepared to throw away the spring and fall TV season, plus features, and prolong the strike,” the letter read. Citing “highly placed executives,” they further claimed that “the companies are preparing to abruptly cut off negotiations” and “plan to accuse the WGA of stalling and being unwilling to negotiate.”

Verrone and Winship challenged the AMPTP to “negotiate in good faith, day and night, through the Christmas and New Years holidays -- whatever is necessary -- to get this done and get the town back to work.”

The AMPTP responded with a statement challenging the “series of factual mistakes” in the WGA letter, including claims that the guild has "been at the negotiating table every day, willing to bargain" and “will remain at the table every day, for as long as it takes, to make a fair deal."

“The WGA's organizers actually spend relatively little time at the negotiating table,” the AMPTP response read. “When they are at the negotiating site, WGA organizers typically spend as much time speaking among themselves as they do at the negotiating table.”

The retort closed with the claim that “The WGA's organizers refused repeated requests by the producers to begin negotiations much earlier, in the spring of 2007. Had negotiations begun when the producers wanted them to start, perhaps the industry would not now be in the midst of this strike.”

The full AMPTP response is below:

Dec. 7, 2007

Statement from Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers:

The WGA's organizers sent a letter to WGA members today that contains a series of factual mistakes.

WGA Organizer Statement: "The companies had requested a four-day break so they could work on their proposals."

The Facts: On Nov. 29, the WGA's organizers requested the four-day break after the producers presented their proposed New Economic Partnership.

WGA Organizer Statement: The producers "told us they would have new proposals."

The Facts: The producers did present a new proposal, the New Economic Partnership, which would increase the average working writer's salary to more than $230,000 per year. The WGA's organizers have yet to respond directly to that proposal, preferring instead to focus on jurisdictional issues in the areas of reality and animation television.

WGA Organizer Statement: "We have been at the negotiating table every day, willing to bargain."

The Facts: The WGA's organizers actually spend relatively little time at the negotiating table. The WGA's organizers sought a four-day break and, when they returned, sessions that were supposed to begin at 10 a.m. often did not start until after lunchtime. When they are at the negotiating site, WGA organizers typically spend as much time speaking among themselves as they do at the negotiating table.

WGA Organizer Statement: "We will remain at the table every day, for as long as it takes, to make a fair deal."

The Facts: The WGA's organizers refused repeated requests by the producers to begin negotiations much earlier, in the spring of 2007. Had negotiations begun when the producers wanted them to start, perhaps the industry would not now be in the midst of this strike.

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