WGA Says Coronavirus Crisis Has “Increased Our Resolve” To Advance Guild’s Bargaining Goals For A New Film & TV Contract

The WGA told its members this evening that the COVID-19 crisis “has increased our resolve to advance the bargaining goals” it intends to pursue with management’s AMPTP for a new film and TV contract. In a communique with members, the guild’s negotiating committee noted, however, “We have not yet heard back from the AMPTP about our proposals.”

On Wednesday, the guild told the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major studios and production companies, that it is “prepared to agree” to the AMPTP’s proposal that they extend the May 1 expiration of the current contract to June 30, and that it has offered to begin negotiations via video and telephone conference during the week of May 11. But WGA West executive director David Young told Deadline earlier today that “there is no agreement with the AMPTP in place, and you can quote me on that.”

In a message to their members this evening, the WGA’s negotiating committee said that the guild “is confronting many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the most significant is how best to renegotiate our Minimum Basic Agreement, which is set to expire on May 1st. The planned March 23rd date to begin bargaining with the AMPTP had to be scuttled upon the order to shelter at home. In mid-March, our committee began meeting virtually to deliberate how best to move forward under these unique and rapidly-evolving circumstances.

“We have now determined the best course of action is to propose extending the MBA expiration date to June 30, 2020. On Wednesday, we proposed that extension to the AMPTP, along with dates in May to exchange bargaining proposals and begin negotiations. The extension would give writers two more months to work under the protections of the current agreement, and time for the committee to finalize our proposals and bargain via video conference with the AMPTP. June 30th would also give us ten more weeks to better understand how the pandemic and government policies will continue to impact writers and the industry.”

The guild went on to say that “Even in the midst of these unprecedented circumstances, our committee remains determined to fight for writers’ long-term and short-term interests in this negotiation. The crisis has increased our resolve to advance the bargaining goals we’d already set, including gaining additional contributions to our benefit plans and fair compensation and residuals for streaming.

“On a related matter, Guild leadership has heard from members concerned about continuing health care coverage during this disruption. Therefore, as part of the lead-up to the negotiation, the Guild has asked the AMPTP Health Fund trustees to agree with us to adopt an extension of eligibility to plan participants who would otherwise lose coverage between now and the end of the year. The details of any extension would be determined by the trustees, who are 50% AMPTP and 50% WGA.

“We have not yet heard back from the AMPTP about our proposals.”

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