In Depth

WGA Accuses AMPTP of Unfair Labor Practices

With its members frustrated by the current negotiations standstill, the Writers Guild of America leadership has filed labor charges against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in an attempt to force studios back to the table.

The guild filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday accusing the AMPTP of unfair labor practices for issuing an ultimatum during the last round of contract talks.

Negotiations broke off Dec. 7 after the AMPTP insisted the WGA take several proposals off the table (including jurisdiction over animation and reality productions) in order to continue bargaining.

The WGA contends the move amounts to a violation of labor practices and takes the current animosity between the negotiating parties to a new level.

“It is a clear violation of federal law for the AMPTP to issue an ultimatum and break off negotiations if we fail to cave to their illegal demands,” said a WGA release. “We are in the midst of the holiday season, with thousands of our members and the membership of other unions out of work. It is the height of irresponsibility and intransigence for the AMPTP to refuse to negotiate a fair agreement with the WGA.”

In its NLRB filing, the WGA contends there is precedence for its claim.

“The NLRB has long held that an employer may not require a union to resolve specific proposals as a pre-condition to discussing other subjects,” the filing states. “Such conduct frustrates the bargaining obligation and, as here, effectively stalls negotiations.”

The AMPTP responded to the charges, calling them a “desperate” tactic.

“The WGA’s filing of a complaint with the NLRB reminds us of the old lawyer’s adage,” the AMPTP said in a statement. “‘When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When the law is on your side, argue the law. And when you don’t have either the law or the facts on your side, you pound the table.’ The WGA has now been reduced to pounding the table, and this baseless, desperate NLRB complaint is just the latest indication that the WGA’s negotiating strategy has achieved nothing for working writers.”

The WGA also addressed an announcement that the Directors Guild of America is willing to commence its contract negotiations with the AMPTP after the first of the year—regardless of whether the WGA have hammered out a deal.

“The DGA has to do what is best for its membership, and we will do what is best for ours,” the WGA stated. “We wish them well, but they do not represent writers. Our strike will end when the companies return to negotiations and make a fair deal with the WGA.”

MORE: A Q&A with WGAW Assistant Executive Director Jeff Hermanson about the NLRB complaint

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