WGAW President Patric M. Verrone and WGAE President Michael Winship today issued the following message regarding the AMPTP-WGA negotiations which appear to be breaking down. (For background, see my previous, Talks Day #7: AMPTP “Stalling Tactics”; Are The Moguls About To Quit The Talks?) The AMPTP immediately followed with a statement of its own (see below). Who’s telling the truth? I think from these dueling statements the answer is clear:

Dear Fellow Members,
Before we head into negotiations this morning, we want to give you an update on where we stand. On Tuesday, after the companies had requested a four-day break so they could work on their proposals, we returned to the bargaining table.  We presented a counter proposal to their streaming proposal of November 29. They presented no new proposals. On Wednesday, the AMPTP again had no new proposals, but they did have detailed questions about our streaming counter proposal and other aspects of our overall proposals – and from the give and take of those discussions, we felt that they might finally be ready to engage in serious bargaining. They told us they would have new proposals for us Thursday. On Thursday, we met at 10am, and they told us their new proposals would be ready shortly. At 5 PM, they told us their proposals still weren’t ready, that they would be working on them late into the night, and that we should come back this morning at 10am. The fact that we saw everyone from the AMPTP leave the building by 6:45pm is not a promising sign, but we will be at the table at 10 AM this morning, ready to receive their new proposal.

We’d like to address some of the disturbing rumors and back channel communications we’ve been hearing. For one, we’ve heard that one or more of the companies are prepared to throw away the spring and fall TV season, plus features, and prolong the strike. Aside from the devastating effect this would have on the unions, workers, and their families in this industry, it would certainly explain the AMPTP’s refusal to put any new proposals, even a bad one, on the table. Also, highly placed executives have been telling some of our writers that the companies are preparing to abruptly cut off negotiations. They say the companies plan to accuse the WGA of stalling and being unwilling to negotiate, and that the companies will use that as an excuse to walk out.

The Writers Guilds of America, West and East are going on record now that any such claims are absolutely untrue.  We have been at the negotiating table every day, willing to bargain. Furthermore, we hereby challenge the AMPTP to negotiate in good faith, day and night, through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays – whatever is necessary – to get this done and get the town back to work.  The Writers Guilds will remain at the table every day, for as long as it takes, to make a fair deal.

Thank you for your patience, support, and solidarity through these difficult times. Please come to the Freemantle rally today.  We remain all in this together.
Patric M. Verrone
Writers Guild of America, West
&
Michael Winship
President
Writers Guild of America, East

And here is the AMPTP statement answering it:

The WGA’s organizers sent a letter to WGA members today that contains a series of factual mistakes.

WGA Organizer Statement

“[T]he companies had requested a four-day break so they could work on their proposals.”

The Facts

On Nov. 29, the WGA’s organizers requested the four-day break after the producers presented their proposed New Economic Partnership.

WGA Organizer Statement

The producers “told us they would have new proposals.”

The Facts

The producers did present a new proposal, the New Economic Partnership, which would increase the average working writer’s salary to more than $230,000 a year. The WGA’s organizers have yet to respond directly to that proposal, preferring instead to focus on jurisdictional issues in the areas of reality and animation television.

WGA Organizer Statement

“We have been at the negotiating table every day, willing to bargain.”

The Facts

The WGA’s organizers actually spend relatively little time at the negotiating table. The WGA’s organizers sought a four-day break, and when they returned sessions that were supposed to begin at 10:00 am often did not start until after lunchtime. When they are at the negotiating site, WGA organizers typically spend as much time speaking among themselves as they do at the negotiating table.

WGA Organizer Statement

“We will remain at the table every day, for as long as it takes, to make a fair deal.”

The Facts

The WGA’s organizers refused repeated requests by the producers to begin negotiations much earlier, in the spring of 2007. Had negotiations begun when the producers wanted them to start, perhaps the industry would not now be in the midst of this strike.

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