The long and Short of it

IATSE chief bashes WGA, strike


The head of IATSE said that WGA West president Patric Verrone always wanted a strike.

In a letter dated Tuesday and distributed Wednesday to the media, IATSE international president Tom Short recalls having cautioned Verrone that a failure to engage with the studios much earlier than the WGA planned would produce "devastation" and that the prediction has come true with the WGA's 10-day-old strike.

"It now seems that you were intending that there be a strike no matter what you were offered or what conditions the industry faced when your contract expired at the end of October," Short wrote.

The IATSE boss, who repeatedly has criticized WGAW leadership over negotiating strategy, didn't spare WGAW exec director David Young in his latest verbal broadside.

"(Young's) incompetence and inexperience are causing irreparable damage to the industry at a time when we can all ill afford to ignore the worsening national economy, the unstable international climate and the crises in health care and the housing market that are affecting many of our working families," Short said.

He added that economic fallout from the strike could exceed $1 billion and cause the loss of "hundreds of thousands" of jobs.

"Over 50 shows have been shut down, (and) more will come," Short said. "Thousands are losing their jobs every day. The IATSE alone has over 50,000 members working in motion pictures, television and broadcasting, and tens of thousands more are losing jobs in related fields. It's time to put egos aside and recognize how crucial it is to get everyone back to work before there is irreversible damage from which this industry can never recover."

Verrone responded with his own publicly circulated reply.

"To put it simply, our fight should be your fight," the WGAW president wrote to Short. "We've received support from the Teamsters, the actors, many IATSE members and unions throughout the world.

"As we've state clearly, we are willing to negotiate; we have wanted to negotiate; we are here to negotiate," he added.

Verrone also included a plea for IATSE to "please help us by doing everything you can to get the AMPTP to come back to the table and settle this strike, which as you say is devastating to your members, to our members and to the entire town."