In a message to their members as bargaining with the AMPTP begins today, the WGA said that the topics of the talks “will include streaming compensation and residuals, benefit contributions, inclusion and equity, workplace protections including against sexual harassment, and specific screenwriter, comedy-variety and TV writer issues.”
In an accompanying video message, WGA negotiating committee co-chairs Betsy Thomas, Michele Mulroney and Shawn Ryan explained the approach the guild will take at the bargaining table, with Ryan warning members, “If past is precedent, there will be efforts to undermine our solidarity through various means, including using the trades and leveraging personal relationships with individual members.”
Said Thomas: “We begin negotiations today with the AMPTP for a new contract, and wanted to talk to you about our approach. First, let’s talk about the adjustment we’ve made to our negotiations in response to the coronavirus. Instead of being together in a room, we’ll be negotiating with the AMPTP via videoconference. However, the bargaining agenda that we presented to some of you in member meetings in late February and early March has not changed, and we remain firmly committed to achieving a fair contract for writers.
“During the twelve years we have covered new media, the content we created has driven the global expansion of television and streaming and resulted in extraordinary profits for our employers. Although the companies are dealing with short-term financial pressures, the terms of the new contract will be in force for many years to come and we will remain focused on the long- term wellbeing of writers.”
Mulroney added: “As the industry changes, writers must keep up. The principle that writers must be compensated, and treated, fairly has also not changed. Writers’ work is valuable and will drive the economic recovery of our industry. We fully expect the AMPTP companies will pursue their long-term economic interests as they always do. And we believe that it is in the studios’ best interest to have a stable, engaged writing work force that is not unduly impacted by economic insecurity. All of our proposals are designed to give writers the economic security which then allows us — and by extension, the whole town — the freedom to create the content studios need and value.”
Said Ryan: “We want to let you know that we think WGA members, both West and East, are represented by an extraordinary negotiating committee. The Committee includes veterans of past AMPTP negotiations as well as newcomers, elected members of the board and rank-and-file members, screenwriters, TV writers, showrunners, and comedy-variety writers, with the best representation of women and people of color ever. We are so proud to be among them.
“Our Guild is strong and has a long tradition of unity, which we continue to demonstrate. We ask for your confidence and continued support during the next few weeks as we advocate for all writers.
“Please remember, the only source of reliable information during these negotiations is your Guild. Over the next few weeks, we will send out information about the issues we want to address and gains we want to make through our bargaining proposals. We will also let you know when there are significant developments during negotiations. But even when you aren’t hearing from us, please know that your negotiating committee and Guild staff are committed to getting the best possible contract.”
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