WGAE balks at ABC offer


The WGA East's latest negotiations with ABC for a new contract for 250 newswriters and others produced concessions from both sides, but a network demand that eight writer-producers at WABC-TV be removed from guild jurisdiction remains a dealbreaker.

FRACIn a session held Friday in New York, ABC upped its proposed salary hike to 12 1/2% over the next 39 months, but a 3% increase above terms of a previous offer hinges on the guild's ratifying the contract by month's end, a source close to the talks said.

WGAE spokeswoman Sherry Goldman said the guild nixed the network's latest offer and considers the nonretroactive terms less than a cost-of-living adjustment. As for the removal of the writer-producers, she said the guild has floated an alternate proposal.

"The WGAE presented a proposal similar to the one proposed by CBS at the WGA-CBS negotiations, which keeps writer-producers in the union but gives the company greater flexibility in managing these employees," WGAE spokeswoman Sherry Goldman said. "ABC rejected this revised proposal and reasserted its demand that WBAC-TV show producers be removed from the union and its protection."

Talks between the WGAE and CBS for a pact to replace a long-expired contract with eye employees resume Nov. 1. In rejecting the latest ABC offer, the guild has requested a new bargaining session with the alphabet, Goldman said.

Local and national newswriters, desk and production assistants, graphic artists and researchers at ABC locations in New York and Washington have continued to work under terms of a contract that expired Jan. 31, 2005.

A federal mediator participated in the past two ABC-WGAE sessions. In the Friday session, the WGAE withdrew a demand involving "reimbursement for transportation costs for staff on overnight shifts," the guild said.

In return, ABC agreed to participate in a labor-management committee on employee safety concerns, it said.