Standing United

WGA, SAG say directors' pact wouldn't hurt them

Writers Guild of America West president Patric Verrone said last week that the WGA and the Screen Actors Guild will stand strong together even if the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers cuts a pre-emptive deal with the Directors Guild of America.

Verrone did acknowledge that a DGA deal was possible. “There's always that chance,” he said. “If it is a good deal, fine. But the strategic alliance between the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild is strong enough to withstand a Directors Guild deal that does not address the issues that are important for working-class writers and actors, and for which we have reasonable and fair proposals on the table.”

The WGA chief also used a visit to Capitol Hill and the FCC to once again claim that his organization is ready to resume negotiations if certain demands about new-media residuals are met. He said his group is “prepared to go back to the table immediately as soon as the companies make it clear that they are willing to respond to the issues that are important to the association, leading with new media. We also just want to make sure that Congress and the FCC understand the challenge we are facing in bargaining with seven multichannel conglomerates.”

Indeed, the WGA and AMPTP announced days later that they will resume talks on Monday, Nov. 26.

Verrone and SAG chief Alan Rosenberg were in Washington trying to get support in their strike against producers. According to Verrone, none of the policymakers they met with offered to intervene on their behalf, and his purpose was just to educate them on his stance.

Full Impact

According to Rosenberg, the California delegation “made it clear that they understand full well the impact this has on the state and the city and L.A., and that is why they are anxious to arrive at some kind of resolution.”

They had already met with California Democratic Reps. Barbara Boxer and Howard Berman, as well as Democratic FCC commissioner Michael Copps. Their itinerary included visits with California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, FCC commissioners Robert McDowell (R) and Jonathan Adelstein (D), and House Commerce Committee chair John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Telecommunications Subcommittee chair Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

Verrone said of his meeting with Boxer, “It's very clear that she understands the issues and has a sense that the best thing going forward is not a strike, so she agrees in that regard. We are hopeful of having her support, or at least that acknowledgement from her and the other members of the California delegation will have an impact.”

Meanwhile, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees president Thomas Short fired off a letter to Verrone last week, accusing the WGA leader of wanting to strike all along. In the letter, Short writes, “It now seems that you were intending that there be a strike no matter what you were offered.” Short also said WGA West executive director David Young's “incompetence and inexperience are causing irreparable damage.”

Verrone responded to Short by saying, “To put it simply, our fight should be your fight. We've received support from the Teamsters, the actors, many IATSE members and unions throughout the world...As we've stated clearly, we are willing to negotiate; we have wanted to negotiate; we are here to negotiate.”

The back and forth between the WGA and the IATSE preceded the unexpected news last Friday that the WGA/AMPTP talks will resume.