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Writers Guild Strike — Day 33 Negotiations Derail

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Talks between the Writers Guild and the AMPTP fell apart early Friday evening in Los Angeles. There was no indication if or when they might resume. This has been a bitter two weeks of meetings, resulting in unproductive negotiations and will probably open the door for the Directors Guild of America to launch talks with the AMPTP.

Dialog 2

The AMPTP claims the Writer’s demanded new contract language allowing writers to go out on sympathy strikes with other guilds and call for first-time jurisdiction over reality TV and animation writing.

Reality TV was created during the last Writer’s Strike of 1988 — to replace the network’s conventional scripted dramas and comedies. Reality TV was a huge success, spawning hits such as “Survivor”, “American Idol” all cheap to produce, making lots of money, with no writers! Animation writers were organized under IATSE — now the WGA wants it all back.

Let the blame begin: “Their Quixotic pursuit of radical demands led them to begin this strike, and now has caused this breakdown in negotiations,” the AMPTP asserted. “We hope that the WGA will come back to this table with a rational plan that can lead us to a fair and equitable resolution to a strike that is causing so much distress for so many people in our industry and community.”

The WGA put the blame for the breakdown unequivocally on the AMPTP, accusing it of delivering an ultimatum of ditching several key proposals and then walking away from the negotiations when the WGA didn’t comply. In a message to members, WGA negotiating chairman John Bowman said the ultimatum included the demand that the WGA concede most of its Internet proposal as a precondition for continued bargaining.

WGA negotiating chairman John Bowman said, “The AMPTP insists we let them do to the Internet what they did to home video,” “We received a similar ultimatum through back channels prior to the discussions of November 4th. At that time, we were assured that if we took DVDs off the table, we would get a fair offer on new media issues. That offer never materialized.”

These negotiations were strange to begin with — the parties weren’t locked in a proverbial smoke filled room hammering out details and making counter offers as long as it took. Instead they would meet from 10 in the morning until about 7:45 PM a few days at a time. Around the clock talks for a full week or more until a deal was made was never in this script.

Don’t expect a re-write of this strike anytime this year!

The photo: The Dialog Cafe was opened during the WGA strike of 1988 by several writers who were out of work due to the strike.

Posted: 0125PT 12/08/07


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