As Friday dawned in Hollywood, the movie and television industry held its collective breath if some movement would occur on the strikes. By late night, those hopes were gone for now.
As the Writers Guild of America strike creeps up on its 100th day, the AMPTP reached out about the possibility of reopening talks. The meeting took place as planned on Friday, but from a note shared with WGA members on Friday night, it seems that things did not go as planned.
Ellen Stutzman and Tony Segall met with Carol Lombardini and AMPTP staff this afternoon for what Carol stated was a confidential sidebar to discuss resuming negotiations for a new MBA. Topics included – at the AMPTP’s insistence – press blackouts. Also discussed was a potential negotiation protocol and a preview of the issues each side intends to bring back to the table upon resumption.
As of now, there is no agreement on these items, because the AMPTP said they needed to consult with their member studios before moving forward.
Our intention after the confidential meeting was to send a simple email to you all letting you know we would get back to you when there was more specific information about resuming negotiations.
However, before the negotiating committee even had a chance to meet, our communications department began hearing from the trades asking for comments on studio-leaked rumors of the contents of the confidential meeting. This is after the AMPTP spent much of the meeting emphasizing the need for a press blackout.
Since the studios are leaking to the press we need to let you know what was said in the meeting.
First, Carol informed us that the DGA deal would be the deal on any pattern issues.
She stated they were willing to increase their offer on a few writer-specific TV minimums – and willing to talk about AI – but that they were not willing to engage on the preservation of the writers’ room, or success-based residuals. She did not indicate willingness to address screenwriter issues, Appendix A issues, and many of the other proposals that remain on our list.
On behalf of the Guild, Ellen reiterated the expectation that all the fundamental issues over which writers have been striking these past three months would be addressed in this new contract, and that no segment of the membership would be left behind.
Ellen made clear that, in addition to a comprehensive response from the AMPTP on our proposals in all work areas, we will need to address issues arising from the strike, including a health care benefit extension and additional plan funding, reinstatement of striking writers, and arbitration of disputes arising during the strike. We will also seek the right for individual WGA members to honor other unions’ picket lines as they have honored ours during this strike.
Carol’s response – something she repeated three times during the meeting – echoes what was written in the AMPTP press statement yesterday: “People just want to get back to work.”
We agree, with the caveat that those conditions that have made writers’ jobs increasingly untenable must first be addressed.
Your committee remains willing to engage with the companies and resume negotiations in good faith to make a fair deal for all writers, even with this early confirmation that the AMPTP playbook continues. But rest assured, this committee does not intend to leave anyone behind, or make merely an incremental deal to conclude this strike.
WGA NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE
The AMPTP responded later saying that Friday’s meeting was to determine “whether we have a willing bargaining partner.” It went on to add, “The WGA bargaining Committee’s rhetoric is unfortunate. This strike has hurt thousands of people in this industry, and we take that very seriously. Our only playbook is getting people back to work.”
The WGA went on strike on May 2, and were joined by SAG-AFTRA in July. For the WGA, they are looking for some movement from producers on the minimum staffing for TV shows, duration of employment, a streaming-based residual, and the use of A.I. in the future.
With this new turn of events, when the strike may come to an end is truly anyone’s guess.