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Writers Guild of America and studios suspend contract talks

February 15, 2014|By Richard Verrier

The Writers Guild of America and the major studios and networks are taking a break from the bargaining table after two weeks of negotiations.

The guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced Saturday night that they had not yet reached a deal on a new contract for film and TV writers, but they said talks would resume March 4.

"The parties have agreed to a temporary recess for scheduling reasons," they said in a statement, declining to comment further.

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Negotiations got off to a tense start this month when negotiators for the WGA accused the producers' alliance of seeking $60 million in "rollbacks for writers," including cuts in the union's health and pension plans, as well as reductions in pay rates for screenplays and TV residuals. The producers alliance did not respond to those claims.

Although neither side is commenting on the negotiations, the WGA has told members it is seeking to improve pay levels for writers who work on basic cable shows and preserve health and pension benefits, among other goals.

The current three-year contract expires May 1.

Any new agreement probably will be patterned after a contract recently negotiated by the Directors Guild of America. That contract, ratified in November, includes proposed increases in wages, residuals and significant new pay terms for work in new media. That agreement was negotiated seven months before the contract was set to expire.


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