Small Victory Belies Chill in WGA Talks
Though the Writers Guild of America remains in a holding pattern in its stalled contract negotiations with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the two sides were able to hammer out an agreement on a thorny side issue.
Both the WGA and the Animation Guild of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have deals with the AMPTP, leading to confusion at times over which contract governed certain work.
In an agreement reached June 22, the AMPTP agreed to notify writers of the governing contract in advance. The WGA has argued that its terms are better for animation writers.
The resolution of the issue, first reported in Daily Variety, takes one key demand off the table in the talks over a wider contract to replace the one that expired May 2.
"At this point, we'll continue working without a contract with the hope that as the other guilds' and unions' contract negotiations begin to develop, because we have so many similar issues, it would help to bring focus," said Cheryl Rhoden, assistant executive director of the WGA. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, which reached a one-year deal with producers earlier this year, are slated begin a new round of talks in the fall. The Directors Guild is also set to open talks then.
In early June, the WGA rejected the studios' "final offer," which denied its request for residuals from DVD and Internet movie sales and jurisdiction over reality and animation programming. The guild is also seeking greater increases in health care contributions.
Union members are working under the terms of the contract that expired May 2. A strike or lockout is unlikely, even though provisions that barred both are no longer in effect.
Amanda Bronstad, Al Stewart
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