The head of the entertainment industry's largest union threw the WGA leaders under a bus by accusing them of delaying negotiations to such a degree that the WGA made a strike inevitable. Thomas Short, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), accused WGA West President Patric Verrone of deliberately delaying talks with the Association of Motion Picture and TV Producers (AMPTP) until the last moment.
“When I phoned you on Nov. 28, 2006, to ask you to reconsider the timing of negotiations, you refused,” Short said in a letter to Verrone. “It now seems that you were intending that there be a strike no matter what you were offered, or what conditions the industry faced when your contract expired at the end of October.” The result, he said, has been the loss of jobs for thousands of members of IATSE and other unions. “
The IATSE alone has over 50,000 members working in motion picture, television, and broadcasting and tens of thousands more are losing jobs in related fields.”
Short concluded that it was “time to put egos aside” and return to the negotiating table and predicted “irreversible damage” to the industry if negotiations do not resume. Verrone issued a brief letter in response cryptically noting that IATSE members receive five times more in contributions to their health fund from the studios than do writers, and then added, “To put it simply, our fight should be your fight.”
He then insisted that the WGA is “willing to negotiate” and that it was the AMPTP that walked out of the negotiations. “So please help us by doing everything you can to get the AMPTP to come back to the table and settle this strike.” However, later yesterday, Verrone backtracked on his earlier statements and said the WGA would only return to the table “as soon as the companies make it clear that they are willing to respond to the issues that are important to the association, leading with new media.”