Without protest, Hollywood studios and leaders of the Writers Guild of America have removed the start of negotiations for a May 18 Masters deal in a week.
Representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers were not immediately available for comment. A WGA spokesman said: “This is just a shredding problem.”
As scheduled, the two sides exchanged views on the proposals before starting talks at a distance from 11 May. They are due to expire on June 30. The WGA and AMPTP initially agreed in early March for talks on March 23, but the coronavirus epidemic thwarted those plans.
According to sources, WGA’s key issues include:
– There has been an improvement in the payment structure for junior writers in “mini-rooms” where a small group of writers work on a few series of scripts instead of producing pilots.
– Improvements to on-demand subscription videos, or SVODs and streaming residuals for reuse. Members of the American Directors Guild were key figures in approving the deal last month.
– The way “span” works on work-term issues is to work and compensate for writers who have expanded into a limited series with only six to 12 episodes per season, rather than the season-themed 22 episodes. They are also hoping to improve the amount that writers can contract with those shows. This was the main topic of discussion in 2017.
– Changes in the contribution of pensions and health plans. In mid-April, David Young, executive director of WGA West, the guild’s top negotiator, raised the issue of reducing eligibility for health insurance for those who would lose their coverage later this year. He called the AMPTP “trivial” when its president, Carol Lombardini, said he needed to consult with the studios. This led to speculation that the dispute could trigger the start of negotiations, but the WGA informed its members on April 30 that negotiations would proceed as planned.
The WGA talks could also take place while the SAG-AFTRA is still negotiating its main deal. Negotiations with the Performers Union and the AMPTP began on April 2 – both remotely and both sides promised to go on a news blackout until the talks were over. The SAG-AFTRA agreement will also expire on June 30.