Negotiations for a new WGA contract have made “a little bit of progress” on feature films, but otherwise the two sides remain “far away” from a deal.
That’s the word coming out of tonight’s WGA strike authorization meeting, which was “very persuasive if you needed persuading,” said a member who attended. “But I don’t see how any guild member won’t vote yes.” The meeting, held via Zoom, was the third this week with two more to follow before the votes are counted Monday. Bargaining is expected to resume on Friday.
Former WGA West President Chris Keyser, who co-chairs the guild’s Negotiating Committee, did most of the talking. “He started out very, very calm and wise, and then got more emotional at the end,” the source said. “He talked about how the compensation system is broken. He said that no one wants a strike but said that the two sides are ‘far away’ from a deal. That’s an exact quote. He said that negotiations have really just begun, but the companies have really not given us much of anything.”
Keyser told the meeting that the companies are complaining that “streaming is costing us a fortune” and that “this is not a good time to ask for money.” But, according to our source, “he also said that we are not going to back down on the most important provisions, which are writers rooms and compensation. He said that 24% of showrunners make minimum – the same as story editors.”
According to the source, Keyser also said that rollbacks proposed by the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers are “less draconian” than in previous years. Even so, Keyser said, “We have to be brave [and] speak the language of power.”
The Directors Guild starts its own contract talks on May 10 – just 10 days after the WGA’s current contract expires – and WGA leaders at tonight’s meeting said “the people they talk to at the DGA are very supportive and are wishing us the best,” the source said.
“In short, the whole meeting was a pitch to ask us to vote yes on strike authorization,” the source said. “And they deserve credit. If the idea was to get members to vote yes, I think they were very successful.”
Other speakers included former WGA West President David A. Goodman, who co-chairs the Negotiating Committee, and WGA West Assistant Executive Director Ellen Stutzman, who is the guild’s chief negotiator.
“But it was all Chris for 20 minutes, and then they took questions,” the source said. “They also talked about the $20 million strike fund and about past strikes.”