Remember earlier in the summer when I told you ABC Daytime was seeking a waiver from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) which would allow them to skirt the current Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) between the Guild and producers? ABC sought this waiver because they wanted to cut script orders for each of their three daytime sudsers—General Hospital, All My Children and One Life to Live—by 20 episodes a year. Well guess what, after some intense, nasty wrangling, the WGA refused to allow the waiver— because ABC allegedly wouldn't accept certain concessions— resulting in ABC Daytime having to honor the original MBA!
Reportedly, the WGA offered to meet ABC halfway initially, says a source.
"The Guild, after much discussion with the daytime committee, went back to ABC with a three-pronged agreement: 1.) The waiver would only last for one year, after it would be revisited, 2.) the reduced guarantees would be spread equally between the members of the scriptwriting team, so no one writer would take the hit. In other words, based on a team of five scriptwriters—with 20 fewer shows per year—each scriptwriter would have their guarantee reduced by four scripts per year, 3.) as this is a serious pay cut, no more pay reductions would be requested during the term of the waiver." the mole stated.
According to the source, ABC Daytime flat out refused the WGA's counter offer.
"They wanted the right to force one writer to take all the cuts if they so chose, without prior warning. For example. Imagine being a writer and not knowing if, week to week, one is going to be asked to write a 90 page script, or if one will be getting a paycheck— having to remain ready and up to date on all story documents— and being contractually restricted from taking other writing work. ABC has historically denied scripters permission to resign when offered other jobs."
The insiders went on to say that since ABC declined to accept the WGA's concessions, the WGA in turn rejected ABC's request for the waiver.
"It's a done deal," says the source. "ABC has to honor their original contracts."
According to a second mole, expect this to all heat back up as the ABC begins serious negotiations with the WGA for a new MBA. The current agreement between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) expires May 1, 2011.