The WGA Negotiations: the Art of Making the Deal

Deadline reports on the current WGA negotiations with the AMPTP, specifically the initial concerns which led to a strike authorization proposal. In an interview with one of the WGA negotiators, Chris Keyser, he explains how the negotiations are generally supposed to work and where things ultimately went wrong:

“The truth is that what needs to happen here is that we each get close to what our bottom lines are – what things we need to make this deal. And in doing that, we take things off the table, back and forth. The first week or so of the negotiations was a good conversation where we identified – and I say we, that means David Young, who’s our chief negotiator, and Carol Lombardini, who’s the companies’ chief negotiator – we identified, through signaling, which things matter to us in the long run – what we’re gonna need to make a deal. And then the sides begin to take things off the table. That’s a necessary part of the process.”

This back and forth negotiating, when due correctly, produces results that are mutually beneficial; which is why is it called negotiating. Words such as “winning” and “losing” do not apply in this scenario, for if one side loses, than both sides loose, if one side wins, both sides win. At least that’s the ideal. But because nothing is ideal, and negotiations with unions always have a way of favoring the bigger player in the onset, problems arise. In this case, the problems came about in terms of what the AMPTP took off the table and what they added on:

“Instead, they made a tactical move, which they’re allowed to do, in which they put stuff back on the table. They put stuff back on the table which they had taken off before. They added a rollback of health care, at the same time as not putting a single penny on the table for writers’ economic demands.”

This is not to say that AMPTP are the bad guys in this situation, for such distinctions are grossly unfair and generalized, especially in the world of business, where such emotion rarely exists in meaningful form. In response to these demands, the WGA has issued a strike authorization form, which no one wants. It is still hopeful that a reasonable deal can be made, but that will require some give and take for both sides in order to benefit. Neither party can afford to be greedy or modest; a healthy middle ground must be found in order for the negotiation to have any affect. This is common sense; something that both parties recognize, but somehow, despite knowing this, are unable to agree on the right path to take.



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