WGA Rallies Members for Landslide Strike Vote or Else AMPTP ‘Will Have the Upper Hand’

Guild council member also claims without evidence that producers group is planting stories in the press “to convince writers … that their union leadership is not professional”

Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are rallying members to vote “yes” this week on the strike authorization vote so that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) doesn’t have “the upper hand” when contract negotiations resume next week, according to an email sent to WGA members obtained by TheWrap.

In an email to some WGA members, WGA East council member Andrea Ciannavei claims that the AMPTP requested a break in negotiations until April 25 to “see how strong our union solidarity is. If we have a low percentage on a yes vote for the SVA, the AMPTP will see that as a sign that we don’t have the will to fight. They will have the upper hand and we will have to take what they offer.”

Ciannavei urged members to attend the meetings Wednesday night in Los Angeles or New York, or fill out the ballot online because every “vote is critical” and “The AMPTP’s openness to negotiate depends on your vote.”

The guild, whose current contract expires May 1, had been negotiating a new deal for film and TV writers with the AMPTP, but those talks broke down toward the end of last month. The WGA’s negotiating committee called for a strike authorization vote March 24.

The two sides reconvened at the negotiating table on April 14 and but negotiations were then suspended until April 25, one day after the the online strike authorization vote ends.

The new email states that negotiations so far have been “slow but professional,” but Ciannavei also claimed (without evidence) that “the articles coming out in the trades are distractions on the periphery and they are being purposefully placed by the AMPTP to convince writers who are already nervous, that their union leadership is not professional.”

It continued, “Which is patently untrue and simply a tactic to weaken our solidarity so that they can get away with giving WGA writers what they deserve.”

Reps for the AMPTP and the WGA declined to comment.

The letter claims the AMPTP only started to budge when the Negotiating Committee requested a Strike Authorization Vote and the WGA Board and WGAE Council voted unanimously to take the vote to the membership which “showed union solidarity.” The WGA then began corporate campaigns, which prompted the AMPTP to move.

“They will say yes when they understand the cost of saying no,” said the email.

Earlier this month, the WGAW sent AT&T and Time Warner Cable shareholders a letter, warning them of the impact a strike could have on both earnings and the pending merger between the two. The letter opened with the WGA explaining that a work stoppage will commence on May 2 should no agreement between the WGA and the AMPTP be reached.