WGA West Board and Council Approve Strike-Authorization Vote

“Even with their record profits there is, apparently, no money for writers. That was unacceptable on Friday; it is unacceptable now,” labor union tells members

Last Updated: March 29, 2017 @ 11:11 PM

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) sent a memo to its members on Wednesday detailing how strike authorization letters will be sent out to them, as approved by the WGAW Board and WGAE Council.

The decision, which was made by unanimous recommendation of the WGA negotiating committee, takes the labor union a step closer to a strike that could impact the whole entertainment industry.

It comes after scheduled negotiations with the AMPTP concluded last Friday without a deal. Strike authorization ballots are expected to go out next week.

“Despite the fact that we have withdrawn almost 50 percent of our economic asks, the companies have yet to put an economic offer on the table. Even with their record profits there is, apparently, no money for writers. That was unacceptable on Friday; it is unacceptable now,” the letter obtained by TheWrap said.

The memo went on to explain how the process works.

“Voting will be conducted online and at special membership meetings in mid-April. At these meetings our elected leadership will lay out the full status of negotiations as well as our bargaining strategy moving toward contract deadline,” is stated. “After all member questions have been addressed, the strike authorization vote will proceed. We will update you after the balloting and meeting dates have been finalized.”

The current contact is set to expire May 1.

In  a prior statement to TheWrap, a spokesperson for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said: “The WGA broke off negotiations at an early stage in the process in order to secure a strike vote rather than directing its efforts at reaching an agreement at the bargaining table. Keeping the industry working is in everyone’s best interests, and we are ready to return to negotiations when they are.”

WGA’s negotiating committee voted unanimously on Friday to recommend its leadership conduct the strike authorization vote after two weeks of negotiations with AMPTP failed to lead to a new deal. WGA was able to negotiate a new deal in 2010 and 2013, but are at risk of failing to do so nearly 10 years after a 100-day strike in 2007-08.

A letter to WGA members on Friday from its leadership argued that producers earned record profits of $51 billion in 2016 while the average salary for TV writer-producers fell 23 percent without being offset by additional compensation via script fees and residuals. Other complaints included a refusal by AMPTP for a new policy on family leave, an increase in the residual formula for video on-demand, and changes in script fees for staff writers.

WGA leadership also claimed in its letter that AMPTP wants rollbacks to the current healthcare plan starting with a $10 million cut in the first year, with funds for the plan being diverted from writers’ salaries.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union composed of the thousands of writers who write the content for television shows, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation, and Internet and new media.

See Wednesday’s full letter to WGA members below.

Dear WGA Members,
As you know, our scheduled negotiations with the AMPTP concluded last Friday without a deal. Despite the fact that we have withdrawn almost 50% of our economic asks, the companies have yet to put an economic offer on the table. Even with their record profits there is, apparently, no money for writers. That was unacceptable on Friday; it is unacceptable now.

With our contract set to expire May 1st, the WGA Negotiating Committee unanimously recommended that the WGAW Board and WGAE Council approve a strike authorization vote. Since then, both the Board and Council have voted unanimously to send the strike authorization vote to the membership.

How does this work?

Voting will be conducted online and at special membership meetings in mid-April. At these meetings our elected leadership will lay out the full status of negotiations as well as our bargaining strategy moving toward contract deadline. After all member questions have been addressed, the strike authorization vote will proceed. We will update you after the balloting and meeting dates have been finalized.

If the strike authorization vote passes, the Board and Council, in consultation with the Negotiating Committee, are empowered to call a strike, if necessary, after the contract expires at midnight on May 1st.

Our goal remains to negotiate the best possible deal before that date. We ask for your continuing solidarity and support.

In Solidarity,

WGA Negotiating Committee
WGAW Board of Directors
WGAE Council

Keep
Reading...

Looks like you’re enjoying reading
Keep reading by creating
a free account or logging in.