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Writers-Producers Agree To Meet With Mediator

May 20, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Striking scriptwriters and representatives of the television and movie industry will have another go-round with a federal mediator, even though two previous sessions produced little progress.

″The chief negotiators have been exploring a possible solution to the impasse and feel a meeting at this time is in order,″ both parties said in a joint statement Thursday.

The meeting, scheduled for Monday, will be the third such mediated session since the strike began 11 weeks ago. The last ended after only 20 minutes on April 18, and a meeting March 14 also failed to bring results.

The 9,000-member Writers Guild of America struck the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on March 7 over disagreements on residual payments for reruns, works distributed in foreign countries and creative control.

The strike has hobbled the movie and TV industry, forcing many TV shows into early reruns and stalling movie production.

Federal mediator Leonard Farrell scheduled the meeting for Monday afternoon at the alliance’s Sherman Oaks headquarters.

The meeting comes at a time when guild negotiating committees are believed to be on the verge of signing at least 20 contracts with independent production companies desperate to resume work. Another 60 such companies also are negotiating with the guild.

While the producers face the possibility of some companies resuming work while others remain idle, the writers sent letters Wednesday to 11 production companies, including the Walt Disney and Paramount studios and several soap opera producers, asking for the names and addresses of replacement scriptwriters they are using.

The WGA letters appear to be the first major acknowledgement by the guild that substantial numbers of replacement writers are being hired to foil their strike.

″Your company apparently has employed one or more persons to perform WGA- covered writing services since the strike began,″ says the letter, signed by WGA Executive Director Brian Walton. ″The WGA is entitled under federal labor law to the name and address of each of these persons. ...″

″We are asking for this information fo the purpose of policing our contract,″ said guild spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden.

On Thursday, the alliance announced it would file an unfair labor practice charge against the guild.

The union’s decision to publicize its letter ″attempted to coerce writers and the exercise of their legally protected right to work,″ which is protected under the National Labor Relations Act, said alliance spokesman Herb Steinberg.

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