The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has made the decision to openly play nice, firmly, just hours before the WGA and the studios are set to begin contentious negotiations on a new overall contract.

The long-term stability and health of the industry are our top priorities as the AMPTP firms approach this negotiation and the ones that will come after it, the trade group led by Carol Lombardini said in a pre-talks salvo on Sunday. The AMPTP continued, “We are all partners in planning the course of our company together and fully committed to reaching a win-win agreement with each of our bargaining partners.

“The goal is to keep production active so that all of us can continue working and continue to deliver to consumers the best entertainment product available in the world,” they said in a not-so-subtle jab at WGA strike rumors in recent weeks.

The 25-member WGA will meet with the studio team tomorrow morning at 11 AM at the AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks with Ellen Stutzman serving as top negotiator and former guild presidents David A. Goodman and Chris Keyser serving as co-chairs.

The pattern of demands from the guild, which WGA members recently approved by the largest margin ever (98.4% to 1.6%), gives an idea of the guild’s overarching objectives heading into the negotiations. Increased residuals, addressing “the abuses of mini-rooms,” “standardized compensation and residual terms for features whether released in theaters or on streaming,” and “significantly” raising minimums everywhere else are among them.

The WGA West Board and the WGA East Council will then determine whether to recommend the deal and submit it to the membership for a vote on contract ratification if and when a tentative agreement is reached.

That might be a long way off, though.

A prominent WGA member told Deadline, “We are entering these talks with no illusions. The seasoned scribe continued, “A strike isn’t something anyone takes lightly, but it shouldn’t be taken over the table, particularly now. The WGA’s most recent picket line action occurred in 2007–2008 and spanned 100 days.

The FAQ section of the guild’s website explains what will happen if a deal is not made before the current contract’s expiration on May 1 in order to put the stakes in stark perspective.

The Negotiating Committee may suggest to the WGA West Board and WGA East Council that the membership vote to authorize a strike if it appears that an acceptable settlement cannot be achieved. The Negotiating Committee’s recommendation will be approved by the WGAW Board and WGAE Council, who will then approve a membership ballot. There may be additional membership meetings in relation to the decision. The WGAW Board and WGAE Council, in consultation with the Negotiating Committee, have the power to declare a strike after the contract ends [on May 1], if a majority of members vote in favor.

“Only after the membership has approved it and the current contract has expired may the WGA leadership initiate a strike. Members are not allowed to carry out covered writing tasks for businesses that do not have a contract with the WGA if a strike is called. Writers picket and take part in other collective actions that push the AMPTP to improve their offer in order to show their cohesion and resolve. Even when there is a walkout, negotiations can go on.

One thing the two parties will likely agree on right away, if past negotiations are any indication, is to impose a media blackout on the discussions. The guild also warns that communications with the membership may occasionally be restricted due to the sensitive nature of these bargaining meetings on the commonly asked questions page of its website.


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