WGA Strike Watch: The AMPTP Speaks Again!

Direct from the AMPTP: We’re disappointed to report that talks between the AMPTP and WGA have broken down yet again.  Quite frankly, we’re puzzled and disheartened by an ongoing WGA negotiating strategy that seems designed to delay or derail talks rather than facilitate an end to this strike.  Union negotiators in our industry have successfully concluded 306 major agreements with the AMPTP since its inception in 1982.  The WGA organizers sitting across the table from us have never concluded even one industry accord. We believe our New Economic Partnership proposal, which would increase the average working writer’s salary to more than $230,000 a year, makes it possible to find common ground. And we have proved over the last five months that we want writers to participate in producers’ revenues, including in theatrical and television streaming, as well as other areas of new media. However, under no circumstances will we knowingly participate in the destruction of this business. 

While the WGA’s organizers can clearly stage rallies, concerts and mock exorcisms, we have serious concerns about whether they’re capable of reaching reasonable compromises that are in the best interests of our entire industry. It is now absolutely clear that the WGA’s organizers are determined to advance their own political ideologies and personal agendas at the expense of working writers and every other working person who depends on our industry for their livelihoods.

Instead of negotiating, the WGA organizers have made unreasonable demands that are roadblocks to real progress:??– They demand full control over reality television and animation.  In other words, they want us to make membership in their union mandatory to work in this industry – even though thousands of people in reality and animation have already chosen not to join the WGA.??– They demand restrictions designed to prevent networks from airing any reality programs unless they are produced under terms in keeping with the WGA agreement.  This would apply even to producers who are not associated with the Guild.  Their proposal artificially limits competition and most likely would not withstand legal challenge.

— The WGA organizers are demanding the right to ignore their bargained “no strike” provision, allowing them to join in strikes of other labor organizations.??– Their proposal for Internet compensation could actually cost producers more than they receive in revenues, thereby dooming the Internet media business before it ever gets started.??– They insist that writers receive a piece of advertising revenue – even though the producers that pay them don’t receive any of this revenue in the first place. ??– They want a third party to set an artificial value on transactions, rather that allowing the market to determine the worth of each transaction. This would result in producers having to pay residuals on money that the producers never even received.

These are the terms the WGA organizers demand for ending the strike – money that doesn’t exist, restrictions that are legally dubious, and control over people who have refused to join their union. 

Besides betraying a fundamental misunderstanding of the economics of new media, such as a streaming proposal that would require us to give them more money than we make ourselves, the WGA organizers are on an ideological mission far removed from the interests of their members.

Their Quixotic pursuit of radical demands led them to begin this strike, and now has caused this breakdown in negotiations. 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.

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  • Sheindie

    The writers have been underpaid and undervalued for too long..promises made to them have been broken… with billions to be made by the studios, the corporations..the writers, are being offered a pittance … I support the WGA and deplore the greed of the studios which make their $$$$$ off the hard work of the writers.. AMPTP: you should be ashamed of yourselves…

  • plinstrot

    Why are you just pasting the (obviously biased) press release by the AMPTP when the WGA has released a counter release at the same time? someone barely following the strike could get the wrong opinion if both sides are not represented.

  • KaeDee

    I don’t think the WGA should demand reality shows be under their purview, not should they force anyone to join their union. I thought this strike was about fair wages; perhaps they should stick to that accord. And if the networks can’t afford what the writer’s are asking for, then they should produced documentation substantiating that position so all parties can move on to an equitable conclusion.

    Online distribution is a new medium for everyone, networks included. Networks are in the midst of trying to figure out a way to garner revenue from this source as well as figure ratings numbers, which equal advertising dollars. An escalating raise in pay for writers over a succession of years makes sense when the revenue from online and DVR viewing is debatable and in its infancy.

    I have to admit that if the AMPTP negotiating team has had such success in the past, maybe the WGA needs to at least try to emulate some of their negotiating strategies to get what THEY want.

  • Dear plinstrot,

    Thanks for letting me know about the WGA counter release. Truth be told, I wasn’t aware of it — as the AMPTP emailed me their statement directly.
    I’m posting the WGA response right now.

  • plinstrot – just a guess…. but most TV bloggers post releases they receive as a way of passing on information… As of right now The AMPTP sends press releases to all the TV bloggers and the WGA does not ( at least not as widespread as the AMPTP does). While coverage can appear slanted without both releases that’s on the WGA. TVAddicts inbox is just as accessible to them as it is to the AMPTP. As pro WGA as the TVaddict has been I would think he’d absolutely post both releases if he got them.

    Again just a guess…

  • Josh Emerson

    I agree that the WGA should not be demanding control over reality and animated shows. That’s absurd. But it sounds like they’re still not receiving the pay that they should. The $230,000 average pay number is so inflated. I’m sure the writers at CSI and Grey’s are fine, but what about the writers on CW shows? I’m sure the minds behind Supernatural aren’t getting what they deserve.

  • shanna

    The WGA isn’t demanding jurisdiction over reality TV. Actually many reality tv writers would like to join the WGA and have been picketing with them. The AMPTP doesn’t want this to happen because they gotten away with making lots of money off of reality tv by not using union writers and working them to the max. Pretty much everything in that statement is overblown and exaggeration of the facts.

  • KaeDee

    I would imagine many things in BOTH the WGA and AMPTP media released statements are overblown and exaggerated. The truth is always somewhere in the middle.

  • Hil

    It seems to me the WGA has been consistently getting supportive coverage from everyone without much question, telling their side as much as they want, etc. It isn’t like AMPTP is beating up on the little guy without friends. The only WGA coverage I’ve seen anywhere really has been positive for WGA so if AMPTP wants to tell a different side with a press release like this it is all they can do since everyone seems to have made up their minds on who is always right or wrong. If WGA is asking for too much that should be made known. The WGA has enough media friendly outlets out there to speak through with a counter statement anyway. I am really tired of people making WGA out as the little guy in this. We really don’t have a first hand, objective observer in this.

  • Mel

    This is pretty blatant strike breaking stalling tactics. The AMPTP must think their pockets are deep enough to screw around like this. I hope its that their ego’s are bigger than their pockets and the parent companies and advertisers cry foul and send them back to the table.

  • Tom

    Don’t believe everything you read… Hold firm WGA!