In a prepared statement, the eastern and western presidents of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have confirmed that they will recommend doing away with fast-track negotiating through the Contract Adjustment Committee in favor of traditional bargaining. This comes in preparation for next summer's contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the traditional networks, ABC, CBS and NBC.
The WGA national council, as well as the Guild's western board and eastern council, met in closed session and "unanimously voted to recommend to proceed to enact the constitutional requirements of a traditional negotiation versus the procedures of a Contract Adjustment Committee. That recommendation will be formally voted on by the board and council at their next meetings."
The WGA's Minimum Basic Agreement with the motion picture alliance and the traditional networks expires in late May 2001. While there has been widespread media speculation about a possible strike by writers and, in turn, by actors when their theatrical contract comes up for negotiation next year, WGA eastern executive director Mona Mangan has been making a case for a reasonable outcome, suggesting that a contract may be achieved without a strike.
Industry speculation has been more cynical, with studio producers being briefed to expect protracted labor actions next year and to stockpile creative material for this eventuality.
One New York crew member told Playbill On-Line in mid-September that the tempo of production in New York has increased to the point where series work is sometimes shot simultaneously. This has caused seasoned veterans like Sam Waterston to do two scripts at once, which is considered particularly challenging in terms of concentration and memorization. At WGA West, president John Wells issued a statement on next year's negotiations saying, "There are significant creative and economic issues that must be addressed. While we anticipate difficult negotiations, a fair contract can be achieved without a strike if the companies join us in a negotiation of mutual respect and are willing to address the issues.
-- By Murdoch McBride