WGA, AMPTP reset table

Contract talks to resume Monday

With results of a WGA strike-authorization vote expected today, representatives of the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have agreed to resume their contract talks at 10 a.m. Monday.

The WGA West and WGA East have been conducting a vote among their collective 12,000 members seeking authorization to call a strike against studios and networks any time after their current contract with the AMPTP expires Oct. 31. But even if so authorized — and most believe that's highly likely — guild leaders would only call a strike if the move is deemed strategically beneficial and an acceptable new collective bargaining agreement is thought to be unachievable without a work stoppage.

The last major strike by Hollywood writers came in 1988, when the town effectively shut down for five months. Nobody who remembers that costly experience is anxious to mount a sequel, but labor and management have made scant progress since beginning their fractious contract talks July 16.

It's considered helpful that management last week dropped its controversial proposal to revise current residual formulas (HR 10/17). But it remains unclear how the parties might find a workable compromise on the issue of Internet compensation, another topic of much public and private debate between the WGA and AMPTP.

The guild wants expanded pay for content distributed over the Internet or other new-media platforms. Management insists that it will only agree to study the matter.

Monday's bargaining session is scheduled to take place at WGAW headquarters in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, when today's vote tally on the strike-authorization balloting is announced, industryites will analyze the results for signs of guild solidarity. That likely will mean close scrutiny both of the percentage of members voting to authorize a strike and the percentage of members who vote at all.
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