Meeting for the first time in more than three months, the Writers Guild and the AMPTP on Friday failed to reach an agreement to resume contract negotiations. Their inability to agree on terms for returning to the bargaining table comes after their much anticipated meeting to discuss a possible resumption of talks.
“As of now, there is no agreement on these items, because the AMPTP said they needed to consult with their member studios before moving forward,” the union said in a statement late Friday.
Here is the full statement from the WGA Negotiating Committee:
Ellen Stutzman and Tony Segall met with Carol Lombardini and AMPTP staff this afternoon for what Carol stated was a confidential sidebar to discuss resuming negotiations for a new MBA. Topics included – at the AMPTP’s insistence – press blackouts. Also discussed was a potential negotiation protocol and a preview of the issues each side intends to bring back to the table upon resumption.
As of now, there is no agreement on these items, because the AMPTP said they needed to consult with their member studios before moving forward.
Our intention after the confidential meeting was to send a simple email to you all letting you know we would get back to you when there was more specific information about resuming negotiations.
However, before the negotiating committee even had a chance to meet, our communications department began hearing from the trades asking for comments on studio-leaked rumors of the contents of the confidential meeting. This is after the AMPTP spent much of the meeting emphasizing the need for a press blackout.
Since the studios are leaking to the press we need to let you know what was said in the meeting.
First, Carol informed us that the DGA deal would be the deal on any pattern issues.
She stated they were willing to increase their offer on a few writer-specific TV minimums – and willing to talk about AI – but that they were not willing to engage on the preservation of the writers’ room, or success-based residuals. She did not indicate willingness to address screenwriter issues, Appendix A issues, and many of the other proposals that remain on our list.
On behalf of the Guild, Ellen reiterated the expectation that all the fundamental issues over which writers have been striking these past three months would be addressed in this new contract, and that no segment of the membership would be left behind.
Ellen made clear that, in addition to a comprehensive response from the AMPTP on our proposals in all work areas, we will need to address issues arising from the strike, including a health care benefit extension and additional plan funding, reinstatement of striking writers, and arbitration of disputes arising during the strike. We will also seek the right for individual WGA members to honor other unions’ picket lines as they have honored ours during this strike.
Carol’s response – something she repeated three times during the meeting – echoes what was written in the AMPTP press statement yesterday: “People just want to get back to work.”
We agree, with the caveat that those conditions that have made writers’ jobs increasingly untenable must first be addressed.
Your committee remains willing to engage with the companies and resume negotiations in good faith to make a fair deal for all writers, even with this early confirmation that the AMPTP playbook continues. But rest assured, this committee does not intend to leave anyone behind, or make merely an incremental deal to conclude this strike.
WGA NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE
The news comes a day after the WGA Negotiating Committee slammed the studios and streamers for playing games, spreading disinformation and using the same old “tired playbook” in labor relations.
In a statement to members Thursday, the guild said the “companies have wasted months on their same failed strategy.”
“We’re not falling for it. Writers … have marched together for 94 days now. We have struck to make writing a viable profession for all of us, now and in the future. We have not come all this way, and sacrificed this much, to half-save ourselves,” it added. “Therefore, we challenge the studios and AMPTP to come to the meeting they called for this Friday with a new playbook: Be willing to make a fair deal and begin to repair the damage your strikes and your business practices have caused the workers in this industry.”
The AMPTP later responded by saying the meeting about meeting was to “whether we have a willing bargaining partner”. “The WGA Bargaining Committee’s rhetoric is unfortunate. This strike has hurt thousands of people in this industry, and we take that very seriously. Our only playbook is getting people back to work,” it added.
It’s been a busy day in LA for the strikes; a picket hosted by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA saw thousands of writers and actors descend outside of NBCUniversal to celebrate new sidewalks with many protestors seeping into the streets.
LA Mayor Karen Bass also weighed in, saying that the meeting was “an encouraging development especially as this historic moment continues to have profoundly negative impacts on our economy and many of our community members” and that she was ““ready to personally engage” to reach a resolution if required.