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AMPTP dismisses WGA’s claims of disunity, saying that its members are “aligned”.

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Source: Screendaily / Jeremy Kay

WGA members on strike in Hollywood

Hollywood studios and streamers negotiator AMPTP (Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers) issued a statement late on Friday saying its members were “aligned” after Writers Guild Of America (WGA) updated striking members earlier in the evening and essentially claimed there was a lack of unity among the companies.

“The AMPTP member companies are aligned and are negotiating together to reach a resolution,” AMPTP’s statement read. “Any suggestion that the opposite is true.” Every member company of the AMPTP wants a fair deal for writers and actors and an end to the strikes, which are affecting not only our writer and actor colleagues, but also thousands of others across the industry.”

The AMPTP said it had “repeatedly put forward offers” addressing each of the WGA’s demands and that the parties were close on many issues, including AI-related matters.

WGA maintains that since the strike began on May 2, the AMPTP has only offered one proposal on August 11.

AMPTP said that the Guild has by and large remained “entrenched” on its position over mandatory staffing of writers rooms and has made considerable gains during negotiations. AMPTP said WGA held the power to move talks forward and said all its member companies were eager to achieve resolution.

Earlier on Friday WGA told members to stand together on the 130th day of its work stoppage and said since SAG-AFTRA started its own strike, conversations by WGA hierarchy with executives at individual legacy studios indicated “both the desire and willingness to negotiate an agreement that adequately addresses writers’ issues”.

The guild asserted its was ready to negotiate a deal with studios outside of the “broken AMPTP model” and said the latter’s “intransigence” was hindering progress.

Both the AMPTP statement and the WGA update that preceded it appear below.

AMPTP statement:

The AMPTP member companies are aligned and are negotiating together to reach a resolution. Any suggestion to the contrary is false.

Every member company of the AMPTP wants a fair deal for writers and actors and an end to the strikes, which are affecting not only our writer and actor colleagues, but also thousands of others across the industry.

That is why the AMPTP has repeatedly put forward offers that address major priorities of the WGA, including a last round of offers on August 17th and 18th . [See below] We are close on many issues including AI. We asked the WGA to identify any remaining holes in the AI offer, but it has not responded. The AMPTP, including all its member companies, remains eager to reach resolution. The AMPTP, including all its member companies, remains eager to reach resolution.

Timeline Of Proposals

April 14, 2023: AMPTP presented WGA with its Comprehensive Package Proposal, a 31-page document.

April 26, 2023: AMPTP presented WGA with its Revised Comprehensive Package Proposal, a 40-page document.

April 30, 2023: AMPTP presented WGA with its Second Revised Comprehensive Package Proposal, a 41-page document that addressed all items in negotiations.

August 11, 2023: AMPTP presented WGA with its Third Revised Comprehensive Package Proposal, a 69-page document that addressed all items in negotiations.

August 15, 2023: WGA responded with a 4-page document with limited moves in a handful of areas.

August 16, 2023: WGA provided details of its revised written proposal on A.I.

August 17, 2023: AMPTP provided WGA a revised AI counterproposal, which focused on the key concerns that the WGA had expressed during discussion the previous day.

August 18, 2023: AMPTP offered further compromises to WGA’s August 15th response. WGA said it would respond next week. WGA update:

Dear members,

We understand that people are anxious to know the status of the negotiations and how difficult it can seem to remain strong during periods silence. This is only exacerbated when the companies have recently tried to confuse the narrative by avoiding the negotiating committee. This is an update of where we are at and how we got there. We share information we haven’t shared before, such as conversations with executives, which show how some companies are already on the path to a deal while others in the AMPTP still aren’t. The companies have not changed their position since then, even though the WGA presented its own counterproposal on August 15th to the AMPTP. The current standstill is not a sign of the companies’ power, but of AMPTP paralysis.

The studios and streamers bargaining together through the AMPTP have disparate business models and interests, as well as different histories and relationships with unions. They are competitors except when they banded together to deal Hollywood labor. The AMPTP allows these legacy studios to negotiate as a united group, allowing hard liners dictate the course of action. The AMPTP claims to represent these disparate corporate interest, but in reality, it administers a system which favors inflexibility and compromise over individual company interests. This return to the hard line has led to the first simultaneous strikes in 60 years.

In contrast to this, in our conversations with executives of legacy studios, we heard their desire and willingness for an agreement that adequately addresses the writers’ concerns. One executive said that they had read our proposals and, though they didn’t commit to a particular deal, they said our proposals wouldn’t affect their company’s bottom line. They also said they were aware they would have to give more than usual in order to settle this negotiation. Another executive said that they were desperate to reach a deal. These same executives — as well as others — have said that they are willing and able to negotiate on proposals which the AMPTP had presented to the public in a negative light. At least one executive from a legacy studio has told us that they can accommodate us on every single issue. While the AMPTP structure’s intransigence is impeding the progress of our issue, these conversations behind the scenes show that there is a fair agreement to be made. It’s not surprising that studios are interested in a deal, given the economic impact of the strike on legacy companies. Warner Bros. confirmed it in a financial filing made public just this week.

We’ve made it clear that, outside of the AMPTP framework, we will negotiate the new WGA agreement with one or more major studios. It is not mandatory that the companies negotiate via the AMPTP. If the economic instability of their own studios isn’t sufficient to make a studio, or two, or three, assert their self-interest within the AMPTP or to break from the broken AMPTP system, perhaps Wall Street can finally force them to do it.

Until a breakthrough occurs, the companies and AMPTP are going to try and sow doubts and dissension within the guild. Keep your radar up. Take the messages sent by the companies through surrogates and the press about how unreasonable your guild leadership is, not as objective truth but as a bad-faith attempt to influence negotiations.

The companies are aware of the truth. They must negotiate to end the strike. They may not like the truth – or they may try and hide it, but they know it. They will continue to try to convince writers to accept less than we deserve and need, while they and their colleagues are arguing about it. They will also encourage us to negotiate ourselves. But we are not going to do that.

Instead, the companies inside the AMPTP who want a fair deal with writers must take control of the AMPTP process itself, or decide to make a deal separately. The strike will end at that point.

We know how painful this period is for everyone. We are all tired, hurting, and scared. It is perfectly fine to say so. The optimism that a return to negotiations is imminent has been met by a stark reminder of the complexities of this process. We share your frustration at how long companies have been prolonging the strike and remain committed in negotiating as quickly as possible a fair solution.

As always, your negotiating committee, board, and council members will be on the picket line. We will write again when there is something of importance to report.

In solidarity,

WGA Negotiating Committee

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