4/23/08

Blackballing writers' union slapped with ULP

The Writers Guild of America Monday posted the names of the 28 scribes online along with an open letter ridiculing them for exercising their rights under U.S. labor to resign union membership while continuing to be covered by the WGA contract. By declaring "financial core" status, those writers still pay union dues in return for guild representation. But they give up union voting privileges, the right to attend guild meetings, hold union office or otherwise participate in union activities. All 28 writers singled out by the union filed for financial core to keep working during the 14-week strike by 10,500 WGA members that shut down much of the television industry and derailed numerous film projects, the guild said.

The majority of the writers named by th
e guild worked on various daytime television dramas, which managed to stay on the air with original episodes long after most prime-time shows had been forced out of production.

They "must be held at arm's length by the rest of us and judged accountable for what they are -- strikebreakers whose actions placed everything for which we fought so hard at risk," the WGA letter said.

The letter drew a sharp rebuke on Tuesday from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the studios' bargaining agent, accusing the WGA of violating labor law by "seeking to deny employment to these writers in the future."

The producers alliance, which had encouraged writers to seek financial core status during the strike, said it has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the union in response to the WGA's letter.

The union fired back with its own statement, calling the studios' charges "baseless" and branding them "an intrusion ... into an internal union matter."

"Contrary to the studios' claim, the guild has not encouraged anyone to refuse to hire a resigned former member," the WGA statement said.

The WGA walkout, which idled thousands of production workers and cost the local economy some $3 billion, ended Feb. 12 after the two sides reached agreement on a deal giving writers more money for work distributed over the Internet.

But the possibility of further labor strife still hangs over Hollywood as the Screen Actors Guild enters the second week of its own contract negotiations with the major studios under a strict media blackout.

(javno.com)

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