Writers Guild Talks to Resume April 10 as Strike Authorization Vote and Contract Expiration Loom

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The WGA and studios agreed to recommence talks hours after the WGA proposed five days of talks to “seek to finalize a new agreement” ahead of a May 1 contract expiration.

The Writers Guild and AMPTP studio alliance agreed Friday afternoon to resume talks Monday, April 10 at 10:00 a.m., the guild announced, just hours after the WGA released a letter responding positively to the AMPTP’s invitation a day earlier that the two sides resume talks. That resumption date is over a week away and means that both a guild strike authorization vote and the May 1 expiration of the current studio contract will be bearing down.

Earlier, the WGA West, in a letter to Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers head Carol Lombardini, proposed just a week of negotiations, April 10-14, although the parties appear to be some distance apart in their positions on such issues as relief for middle-class writers, shoring up the health plan, solidifying the pension plan’s foundation, and other matters. The guild’s later announcement did not specify whether that proposed duration was agreed to.

The letter, from guild executive director David Young, reads in part, “ On Wednesday, March 23rd, the WGA made further cuts to its initial list of demands, reducing the economic cost of the package by almost 50%. Late Thursday, the Companies presented a Comprehensive Package Proposal that failed to address our essential economic issues. We made clear that evening that the guild rejected your proposal.”

Talks ended the next day, after having lasted just two weeks, leading some observers to believe that the WGA deliberately brought too heavy an agenda in two short a time in order to persuade the membership that a strike authorization was needed.

Young’s letter continues, “We are ready to return to the bargaining table to hear a revised proposal from the AMPTP that addresses the Guild’s core issues. Alternatively, in the absence of such a constructive proposal from you, we are prepared to respond with a package that addresses the inadequacies of your last offer.”

The letter, which the guild released to the media, then concludes “I suggest that the parties meet from April 10th-14th and seek to finalize a new agreement. I look forward to hearing from you.”

The AMPTP earlier declined to comment.

SOURCE: THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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