Members of the Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East have given their overwhelming approval to the Pattern of Demands for the 2011 Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and major television networks.
A total of 2,021 valid ballots were cast in Los Angeles and New York with 1,951 (97%) writers approving the pattern.
“Our thanks to those who voted so strongly in favor, affirming the relevance and importance of the issues outlined in our pattern of demands,” said WGAW President John Wells and WGAE President Michael Winship. “This overwhelming support from our joint membership is a powerful mandate for our negotiating committee as it moves forward toward the next MBA.”
I had predicted Hollywood could most likely expect quick and easy negotiations. And the DGA’s took just three weeks and change. And why not when your Hollywood Guilds are just rubber-stamping what crumbs the studios and networks are feeding SAG/AFTRA and DGA members despite this rapidly improving economy? The Directors Guild Of America leaders made it plain early on that they weren’t going for big wages or even a substantially better New Media deal (despite promising it would during the last bargaining go-round). Instead the DGA negotiators were focusing on increased Health Plan and Pension contributions, just like they were for SAG and AFTRA. The AMPTP’s current contributions are at 14% for the DGA, and probably go to 16.5% on the new contract if ratified. So that’s three big Guilds down, and only the Writers Guild of America still to go.
No date for the start of negotiations has yet been set for the WGA, whose contract ends May 1, 2011. But the moguls behind the AMPTP always intended to negotiate with the writers last (even though their pact was expiring sooner) to ensure there’s the most Hollywood antagonism towards them. Although SAG/AFTRA and the DGA traded information during their talks, they’ve left the WGA out in the cold. Now you can expect a lot of silly trade stories filled with false rumors about WGA “strike talk” in order to scare the Industry which in turn will pressure the writers to settle quickly. Don’t get me wrong: no one wants another strike so soon. But that also doesn’t mean that the WGA has to wimp out like the other Guilds. Excuse me, but wasn’t this year when all the Hollywood Guilds were going to join together and fight, fight, fight, for what is rightfully their share of the money pie? Anyone? Anyone?
The following statement was issued today by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP):
The Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have successfully concluded a tentative agreement on a new TV/Theatrical contract, again demonstrating the benefits of an early deal for the entire entertainment industry. These early talks allowed us to bridge the gaps created by uncertain economic times and deliver increases in areas critical to DGA members.
The DGA’s chief negotiator Gil Cates said the following:
Los Angeles – The Directors Guild of America today announced that it has concluded a tentative agreement on the terms of a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Negotiations, which began on November 16, concluded this afternoon. Details of the tentative agreement will be released once the agreement has been submitted to the Guild’s National Board for approval at a special board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, December 8.
The DGA’s current contracts expire on June 30, 2011.