11/16/2007

A Response Worth Posting

Responding to my post ("The Faces of the Strike") earlier today, Anonymous said what a lot of us have been thinking. I think it's worth reprinting in its entirety.

Anonymous said...

Not "some accountant in one of the AMPTP companies"...every single company has done extensive financial analysis on this situation, and it's what will drive all decisions made from the AMPTP side.

Business decisions from executive management are based almost exclusively on finances...and often short term finances over long- or medium-term finances.

AMPTP knows exactly when this strike will end.

They have no incentive to come to the table until the desired trigger date, which is likely after the 6 week point required for the force majeure. It may be much later than that, but not likely earlier.

Until then, it's Nick Counter's and the studios' job to manage PR and minimize damage and loss while they ride this thing out.

The studios have forecasted how much they will lose, how much they will save, what offer they will come back to the table with and what date that offer will be presented.

This strike comes down to a pro forma income statement, and clearly the majority of studios or at least the most powerful studios have decided that from a financial standpoint, it is not yet time to end this strike

Anonymous may be correct about the AMPTP strategy. But here's the problem: what he's described is the struggle from their point of view.
Where I think Anonymous gets it wrong is he assumes that their strategy strengthens them, that their cynical calculations protect them, and that their focus on oligarchic power guarantees success.

From our side of the fence, the situation looks very different.

Our actions on the picket lines have surprised them with the turnout. Politicians and celebrities have joined with us. In the first week of the strike, reporters took Nicholas Counter's statements at face value. Now, his positions are being scrutinized and repudiated. The AMPTP tried to blame the WGA for the strike but nobody was fooled.

And on the internet, in blogs, articles, and videos, thousands upon thousands have taken up our cause as new assaults on the AMPTP are calculated on laptops around the country.

Anonymous may have figured out the AMPTP's secret plan, but, to paraphrase the words of that great writer Paddy Chayefsky speaking through Howard Beale, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!"

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why we should strike up until the day before the Force Majeure clause kicks in and then go back to work for one day. Let the studios and networks see if they're willing to wait another month and a half vying for the Force Majeure deadline. At some point, they'll see their greedy actions are no longer cost-effective and get down to some serious bargaining.

Simon C. said...

This is an interesting post, since it tracks with this article I just saw.

http://allyourtv.com/movie_free_thanksgiving.html

It encourages TV fans to boycott the traditional Thanksgiving holiday weekend moviegoing, as a way of scoring some PR points and having an economic impact.

I'm not sure how likely it is, but it's an interesting idea.

Anonymous said...

Simon, C, this is a good idea and worth a shot. Like you say, it's hard to see it working, but maybe just maybe we can get the word out to moviegoers. The public are on our side - imagine if they get to feel part of this struggle. It could be powerful.

English Dave said...

I'll lay odds the AMPTP didn't factor in the Showrunners walking out as a serious consideration in their financial projections.

That would have put the wind up right up their kilts.

If a few writer/directors would follow suit I'm sure that would be equally helpful. Hard as that decision must be.

Anonymous said...

My own opinion is that, yeah, the strike will play out after force majeure around mid December. Maybe Januaray, as there seems to be little incentive to do so during the normal Christmas/NY Year's break that always shuts down Hollywood (seriously, if you live and work in the Biz, its a ghost town the last 2 weeks of December). In Jan, the AMPTP will offer the 4 cents, whatever, and Patric Verrone will be pressured by the members to accept it. This whole strike has been about the studios desire to unload bad deals, not withhold 4 cents residuals. This, of course, is just the opinion of someone who's not one of the big shots who's in the room dealing.

Anonymous said...

Boycotting movies could have some impact, but boycotting shopping would work even better. No Disney, Sony, or General Electric products from Nov. 25th to Dec. 25th. They never factored that into their equation.

Anonymous said...

The moguls are making our lives miserable. We should, in turn, make their lives miserable as well: Encourage the fans to pester them with calls; get their Boards of Directors to pressure them; socially humiliate them; pelt them with lawsuits over their accounting practices. They will still end it when they want to end it, but at least they'll be unhappy the whole time.

an Industrial Engineering Student said...

I really think you’re over estimating these companies financial prowess. I'm sure they've looked at the finances of the situation, but I would be surprised to find out they have done a thorough and detailed analysis of the situation. The upper management probably just got some accountants or consultants to throw some numbers together who used rules of thumb and such to come up with a report that told upper management what they wanted to hear "killing those annoying unions is in your best interest, you don't want to end like the US auto industry." Never mind it’s a lack of innovation and attention to quality that has been killing the US auto industry.
To illustrate my point about the companies, in one of my optimization classes we were required to read through a journal on optimization and one of the articles was on NBC's add selling. It's turns out they did not start to automate the process and take advantage of existing knowledge in the field of industrial engineering until the late nineties, the late nineties! The knowledge and technology to start optimizing the process has been around since the 40's. I'd link the article, but a subscription to the journal is needed, and it is pretty technical.
I think it would be in the WGA's interest to hire their own analysts to look at the finances of the situation. Coming to the table with hard numbers could strengthen your position in negotiations.
Sorry for the long post.

Anonymous said...

Just a wild guess here but I am sure the studos have factored in the idea that the writers will come back the day before force majeure. I seriously doubt that ending the strike for a day will stop the studios from cleaning house. Writers are going to lose their deals either way and then where will they be? Maybe actually being hurt just a little by their own actions.

By the way the fact that the WGA has come out and said that as long as Letterman pays for the staff on his show they are fine with him returning to the air and in fact think it is a huge positive statement for them is absoultely rediculous. Basically they have come out and said as long as you pay us while you cross our line everything is ok. You can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the best way to get a good deal is to strike an extra month after the AMPTP wants to come back to the table.
Up until then it's just a matter of depleting whatever budget they've allocated for the strike.

Captain Obvious said...

Goes hand in hand with what I was talking about in the Oz thread. I nearly reposted. I will now.

The paraphrased excerpt:

We're constantly hearing about the plight of below-the-line from people that phrase it as if it's news to us. Believe me, everyone understands what's going on and what's at stake for everyone involved whether said involvement is direct or indirect.

If I'm not mistaken, though, the studios went into negotiations with a grocery list of demands. These demands amounted to a rollback of concessions the writers have gained over the past 20-50 years. As someone else pointed out, this was practically when the strike was born.

Even still, the writers attempted to negotiate their important issues. The studios demanded that they take their DVD proposal off the table in order to continue talks. This was a specious proposal. The studios thought the writers would never capitulate on the DVD issue, as it was important, and the writers had merit; but the writers took it off the table anyway.

Then what happened? The studios walked away from negotiations. Why? They thought the writers would never budge on DVDs and intended to use that as their ammunition in a public relations effort to paint the writers as unreasonable and wrong-headed. When the writers DID budge, however, the studios were dumbfounded. There wasn't a plan for this. So all they could do was run.

The studios wanted this strike. They wanted to use it as an excuse to clean house. It's time we cleaned their clock. If you're below-the-line direct your ire at them. They forced writers into this situation. The misinformation campaign they've waged ever since has been a crude and flimsy replacement of the solid case they would've been able to make against the writers had they stood steadfast on the DVD demands.

Please, band together, one and all. The studios have some idea that this will ultimately be a payday. Let's make it a Mayday.

Captain Obvious said...

anonymous @ 10:37 AM said:

"By the way the fact that the WGA has come out and said that as long as Letterman pays for the staff on his show they are fine with him returning to the air and in fact think it is a huge positive statement for them is absoultely rediculous. Basically they have come out and said as long as you pay us while you cross our line everything is ok. You can't have it both ways."


I haven't heard this. Maybe they mean if you extend that "leave pay" to the striking writers while they continue to strike and try to go on without writers we won't hassle you about it?

Anonymous said...

The WGA EVEN HINTING that some of its members can be allowed to work on such shows as Letterman (and, if the LATIMES is to be believed, even upcoming award shows), is an alarming sign. Either the members are in as one, or they're not. You can't have some people working and some not. It's just completely lame, and, if true, shows how some of our leadership may not be up for this fight.

English Dave said...

anon - ''This whole strike has been about the studios desire to unload bad deals, not withhold 4 cents residuals.''

I think that is a happy byproduct for them rather than the primary reason they caused the strike.

Those figures pale into insignificance when you think about even the relatively minor costs that giving a fair deal on residuals entails over time.

For example Wal-mart are by far the largest DVD retailer in the States. They operate 'long tail' policy on DVD sales, in that they make practically nothing or even a loss on sales of new DVD's for the first few weeks of release when 80% of DVD's are sold. The vast majority of the retail price going to the Studios.

Billions of dollars. And the Studios cost of sales? Between 2 and three dollars per DVD [including all residuals]

If you are looking at short to medium term earnings then this coupled with how much they think they are going to earn from the internet is I think the major reason they won't budge.

Look how many hundreds of millions of dollars they have made from shafting writers on the original video deal? 4 cents per dvd. Laughable.

Anonymous said...

Go out, pick up a Daily Variety today and flip to the back cover. Nuff said.

Pooga said...

Hello. Another fan/supporter in the Midwest here. I've got a question for those more intimately involved with the industry about the "Force Majeure clause" I've seen referenced in the past week or so.

While I got the general idea of what it means from the references, I wanted a better understanding, so I visited its Wikipedia entry.

While it refers to labor strikes as one of the examples of a Force Majeure event, it also says, "...Force Majeure is not intended to excuse negligence or other malfeasance of a party, as ... where the intervening circumstances are specifically contemplated." The sample Force Majeure clause reads, in part:

"Any Party asserting Force Majeure as an excuse shall have the burden of proving that reasonable steps were taken (under the circumstances) to minimize delay or damages caused by forseeable events, that all non-excused obligations were substantially fulfilled, and that the other Party was timely notified of the likelihood or actual occurrence which would justify such an assertion, so that other prudent precautions could be contemplated."

While it's unlikely that the wording in the relevant contracts is exactly this, I would imagine it's something similar. I'm not a lawyer, so there are likely aspects I am missing, but considering that it seems like the AMPTP actually pushed for this strike, and intentionally refused to negotiate in good faith in order to break the union and "trim the fat" once the strike lasted x number of weeks, could a case be made that they in fact did not take reasonable steps to head off the strike, and as a result cannot legally enact Force Majeure clauses?

Again, I'm no legal expert, and this is a small amount of research done on Wikipedia, so the actual contracts involved could be (and likely are) phrased to to avoid such an interpretation, but I figured I'd throw it out as another possible tool against the studios.

Captain Obvious said...

Whatever the case, something needs to be done to try and stop them from gaining any benefit from this terrible situation.


Every option needs to be explored.

huston huddleston said...

I want to tell you a little story about what happened yesterday. Number one, I'm a writer and I totally agree with the reasons of the strike and I hope it gets settled soon, but I am NOT a SAG or AFTRA or WGA member. Everything I've ever done was in the UK.

I'm passing Universal and see the protesters, standing like sheep, or black plague rats, in one little clump holding signs like posers. I say "Hey I'm on my way up the hill to city walk, let me have one of those signs, I'll casually stroll through till I get thrown out" They said "You have to get one from the organizer across the road"

I went to the guy and he would NOT let me have one "because it’s an organized strike" I said "so you clump them all into one little pile? Why not have them here and there and everywhere? On every corner that’s public property" he said "Thank you for your support goodbye" like the self destroying stooge that he was.

I said "Look, I just want to walk through holding the sign" he said "they could arrest you" I said "Let them try to arrest me! If the WGA is depending on spinless people like you to lead them to freedom, they're never going to get anywhere!" I then called the strike heads at the WGA and explained what happened. They totally agreed with the private organizer who according to them is one of the MILITANT leaders of the group!

For them to be too frightened to actually do anything rather than "Honk your horn if you agree" shows the mentality of the Hollywood writers. I assure you a Hollywood producer or director would have kicked someone in the crotch by now and beat up his mother to get what he wants, and that’s why this thing is going to drag out for another 4 months because American writer organizers are just ‘too darn scared… They probably got that way from writing American sitcoms.

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems enamored of the plumber’s analogy, so I want to respond to it Let’s say Pete Plumber comes to a Megabuckstudio to fix a toilet. Pete says he’ll fix toilets for 40 bucks an hour. Megabucksstudio head says fine. They sign a contract for the work and megabuckstudio head leads Pete to a room with 60 toilets. Wow, Pete says, this a big job. Maybe 60 hours. Who really knows how big it is, megabucksstudio guy says, we’ll start the clock and see.

So Pete pulls out his tools, and gets to work, and time seems to be creeping to a standstill. In fact, as he stares at a clock on the wall (and his own wrist watch) for every minute it goes forward, it goes back 59 seconds. So a minute is a second, and an hour is more like 60 hours. WTF’s going on here, Pete says, this doesn’t feel right. Megabucksstudio head sticks his head in and says, no, it’s both fair and right because we invented a time machine for that room. So when you’re in there, time is slowed, and we’re paying you by the hour, just like we agreed. So plumber keeps working, and he finishes up all the work on his contract, because a deal is a deal, but as soon as his contract is up, he says, hey, for the next contract, I want to add something about time machines, you sneaky SOB’s!

That’s where the writers are. We made deals in good faith in the past, based on the fair value of our work. We said, hey, we’ll give you our product to use to make money, and we’ll take this much up front, and this much later if you decide there’s value to you in reusing our work. (We figured some stuff they would decide to re-use, and some they wouldn’t.) We specified all the things we could thing of – this much for re-using our product on network prime time, this much for late night network, this much for cable, etc. Then technology changed, and the TV show that – if the studio decided to rerun it on Friday night would pay us x amount, the studio now “re-runs” on the internet and gives us 1/100th of x. (Don’t hold me to the math, this is an analogy!) We couldn’t do anything about it while we were under the original contract, except kick ourselves like our plumber above, but now we have a chance to make a new deal. So that’s where we are. Not looking for anything special, and something the plumber would certainly demand if new technology gave his boss a way around the basic economics of what he agreed. So next time someone mentions the plumber, tell ‘em about the time machine!

A TV writer

Captain Obvious said...

Refer to this regarding what some of you were saying about late night...


http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1684419,00.html


That should clear up any misconceptions.

Captain Obvious said...

And I have to say I'm pleased with the fairly even-handed writing coming out of TIME...


Kudos!

Anonymous said...

"The WGA EVEN HINTING that some of its members can be allowed to work on such shows as Letterman (and, if the LATIMES is to be believed, even upcoming award shows), is an alarming sign."

I don't think that's the case at all. In 1988 the talk shows came back without writers, the hosts just chatted with guests (I believe that is what Ellen has been doing). I assume they mean they wouldn't make a stink if Letterman came back and kept paying the writers even if they weren't working.

Anonymous said...

This strike will never work. You think you can stick it to these media giants because they are not giving you a fair deal? Im sorry it will never happen. You must accept the fact we live in a money driven society and the person with the most money holds the most power. Its really not that hard to understand. So I hope you guys are happy when you accept another shitty deal. Trust me you guys can't strike forever.

Anonymous said...

From reading the article, it seems to me that Letterman was saying he would pay his STAFF while the strike was going on. This means everyone, from caterers to cameramen.

By doing so, he HELPS promote the writers' cause, because it prevents people from using the argument, 'Look how selfish you writers are, getting people laid off so you can get more money!'

It appears Ellen was trying to do the same thing, but made the mistake of coming back too early. Letterman is biding his time so that he shows his symbolic support before being forced to go back on the air for the express purpose of keeping his employees employed.

Anonymous said...

"In 1988 the talk shows came back without writers, the hosts just chatted with guests "

And that strike last 5 months. You ready for that?

Anonymous said...

"You must accept the fact we live in a money driven society and the person with the most money holds the most power."

That's kind of the whole point of a union. If they stop working, the studio doesn't have product to sell, and they stop making money. It's tricky with the studios since reality shows and game shows aren't union (it would be a big step if they could get that) and because most studios are owned by bigger companies that can be subsidized by selling microwave ovens and other stuff.

Personally, I'd like to see more activism aimed at putting pressure on these companies. A movie boycott would be a good start, but it would take a lot more than just a few days of it. If people stopped buying DVD's (wouldn't that get the studio's attention during the christmas season), GE products, stop going to theme parks, anything that makes a buck for the parent companies, it would get the studios' attention a lot quicker.

I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk about this sort of thing yet, as it drags on hopefully there will be more organized efforts along these lines.

Here's a site with info about who owns what.

Personally, I don't intend to buy any DVDs until the strike is over (and my Xmas list would have been heavy on DVDs), and any electronics products definitely won't be GE or Sony.

Anonymous said...

"And that strike last 5 months. You ready for that?"

I suspect that this could go even longer, especially since the writers currently get nothing on downloads either and their contract is up next summer. You think they'd accept that?

I hope the writers are patient enough to wait as long as it takes and don't give in until they get a fair offer.

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot the link...

http://www.thinkandask.com/news/mediagiants.html

Anonymous said...

huston huddleston - what you proposed doing was illegal. The WGA and any stiking union needs to adhere to strike rules. And yes, there are rules and they are legally binding. If you had gotten arrested the story would have been spun into an anti WGA PR piece. The Teamsters also adhere to these rules when they strike, but I guess you are more comfortable calling a writer spineless than a trucker. The law is the law and picketers can and would be arrested if not in certain areas.If you want to make your own sign and walk into Universal citywalk, etc...that is your choice.

And gee thanks for calling the picketers rats and posers, how sweet. When was the last time you walked in a picket line for 4-5 hours at a stretch in hot weather?

Mean Gene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mean Gene said...

I find it interesting that people can go on strike during a economic depression. Thats okay. It will make room for up and coming writers if the industry has the guts to hire them.

Patrick Meighan said...

"I hope you guys are happy when you accept another shitty deal. Trust me you guys can't strike forever."

I've been on the picket lines every single day, alongside thousands of working writers like myself. Today, it was The Simpsons writers I was walking with. Day before that, it was House writers. Before that, Earl writers.

To a man/woman, every single writer I've met on the lines is prepared to go as long as it takes. 6 months? A year? Longer? We'll do it. We won't be happy about it, we won't be lovin' it, but we'll do it.

I, myself, will strike to my very last breath before seeing the Guild accept a deal that isn't fair and doesn't include a fair percentage of new media residuals. If the studios wanna try me, they are welcome to try me.

Patrick Meighan
Culver City, CA

English Dave said...

Anon - ''Personally, I don't intend to buy any DVDs until the strike is over (and my Xmas list would have been heavy on DVDs), and any electronics products definitely won't be GE or Sony.''


That's direct action that actually works.

There's been a lot of trolling going on.

''You cant't beat the corporations.''

''You are all millionaire fat cats hurting other people''

Both of these positions are just plain wrong.

A buddy of mine's father in law is a multi millionaire who made his money defending the indefensible. PR for Philip Morris and the like. A common tactic was to blitz information outlets of those opposing them with negative comments purporting to come from heartrending real people.

That is the lengths they go to. And that isn't something that occurrs to the side of the writers. Nor should it. Ever.

But it is clear the great American public know a shafting when they see it.

The writers are the good guys in this, and let no one tell you otherwise.

Ang Li Cru said...

The moguls are not making your lives miserable.

YOU are making your lives miserable, as well as the lives of thousands of below-the-line crew members who are losing their jobs daily because of your walkout.

I am such a crewmember, currently working on a network show which is shooting for another week or so. Then we will all be laid off.

I support you writers, but I do not support this strike (and nearly every single member of the crew i am on agrees with me on this).

Striking now was tantamount to a "rush to war." If you were not on strike right now, you would be at the bargaining table. Right now.

I think a lot of the writers are romanticizing the strike as this big action against the evil conglomerates, but the truth is that you walked out way too soon.

I support your right to strike, your leadership, though, led you down a path from which you will not soon recover. Nor will the thousands of workers who, like me, work so hard every day to shape the shows and films that you originate.

English Dave said...

case in point.

Ummmm Who walked out? who won't come back to the table?

tv watcher said...

The writers didn't walk away, though -- the studios did.

The writers offered to take DVDs off the table in exchange for movement on the new media residuals. The ATMTP stalled for hours, knowing that a strike would be declared for the WGAe at midnight -- then they pretended deep offense and walked.

The whole thing was grandstanding at its finest/worst -- but not by the WGA.

Canadian said...

I am saddened to learn that at the time for change when writers could have stood up for what they believe, they were branded communists. I hope this strike will prove once and for all that Jews don't control hollywood. I wish they did! Then I wouldn't be going through Daily Show withdrawl!
As always, I would like to inform our wonderfully talented but underappreciated neighbours that they are always welcome in Canada. We got alot of great Americans during the last draft dodge.

Captain Obvious said...

ang li cru said:

"I think a lot of the writers are romanticizing the strike as this big action against the evil conglomerates, but the truth is that you walked out way too soon."



When the functioning contract expired, an acceptable deal wasn't on the table, and the opposition continued to be arrogant, it was too soon?

How can it be too soon if the contract is expired?

David Grenier said...

This strike will never work. You think you can stick it to these media giants because they are not giving you a fair deal? Im sorry it will never happen. You must accept the fact we live in a money driven society and the person with the most money holds the most power. Its really not that hard to understand. So I hope you guys are happy when you accept another shitty deal. Trust me you guys can't strike forever.

See:

- Pullman Strike
- Lawrence Strike of 1912
- Flint Sit-Down Strike
->- Minneapolis General Strike
- Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike
- Neptune Jade
- UPS

People have repeated this nonsense time and again throughout history. And over and over poorer workers facing tougher fights overcame bigger obstacles (including jail, beatings, and murder) to win much larger victories than Internet Residuals.

If you think that a bunch of skilled workers with leverage in the industry can't do half of what textile workers, garbage collectors, and package handlers have done when facing attack dogs and corporate thugs, you're sadly mistaken. Its inevitable - if the writers stand together, and if their brothers and sisters in the other entertainment workers unions stand with them, they will win.

Ang Li Cru said...

The writers walked out. This is a strike, not a lockout.

I think the big mistake that the WGA lead negotiators made was not realizing that the threat of a strike carries more leverage in a negotiation than the actual strike does.

Don't believe me? Right up until the moment that the strike happened, both sides were at the table. You were closer to a deal then than any point up until then.

If you had not chosen to strike 5 days after the contract expired, you would still be working. Shows would still be in production, and contract talks would be continuing (if not concluded!).

I understand not wanting to wait until June (and striking with SAG and DGA), but striking only five calendar days after the contract expired was a knee-jerk move.

You have now given all of your leverage to the AMPTP.

You having nothing left to threaten them with. You are already on strike. They are assuming that you will be on strike for months.

They are okay with this.

Does this make them a-holes? Of course.

But WGA leadership should have anticipated this move.

I think WGA best-cased what would happen when you walked, and were dead wrong.

And I repeat, this strike really does not have the support of the rank-and-file below-the-line crew members. We all support the individual writers. We support our show runners.

But this strike was unnecessarily rushed. This strike is hurting writers and crew members. Is it hurting producers, too? You bet. But not as much as the rest of us.

English Dave said...

'' The whole thing was grandstanding at its finest/worst -- but not by the WGA.''

Exactly. Where the AMPTP have it wrong is that they believe only in the dollar. They think that means all.

That's why all their PR is geared towards how ''rich'' writers are. Skewing the statistics to suit them.

The infamous Studio quote ''Yeah but will it play in Preoria''

Guess what? The Internet makes the guy in Preroria just as savvy as the guy in Manhattan. Or Mombassa.

The public know that. And writers are the public. When they stop being the public, they should stop being writers.

Anonymous said...

They may have the knowledge power and the financial power. But we have the moral power. Therefore, we will win in the long run. The long long run. The long long long run. The long long long long... long run.

Captain Obvious said...

ang li cru, you miss the point.

Whether this happened now or next year it would've happened. The difference, though, is that by continuing to work until the middle of next year the writers would have been:

(a) Strung along in negotiations by the studios.

and

(b) Arming the studios with further ammunition to survive the strikes of the other industry unions.

and

(c) Demonstrating a lack of resolve that just cannot be displayed to an organization as gargantuan and unfeeling as a conglomerate.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the hype from all sides, I don't think the situation can be solved without factoring in the actors and the directors. They have the same new media concerns as the writers. I don't think we're going to see movement toward resolution with the WGA until the DGA talks commence. And if the DGA chooses to punt on the new media issue, it's going to be a repeat of 1988 all over again: A long strike where the WGA ends up with nothing. I hope that isn't the case, however.

Ang Li Cru said...

Captain Courageous,

We will never know if your first two points would have come to pass, because the WGA chose to walk after just 5 days.

Would the studios have been that much greater prepared had you chosen to walk 1 week later? Or 2 weeks?

Maybe a January 1 walkout would have given the networks room to breath through the next period of sweeps, but it still wouldn't have given them a full season's worth of shows.

A later walk-out (if necessary), though, would have made for a nicer Thanksgiving, Hannukah and Christmas for your membership and the rest of working Hollywood.

And, as for reason C, there is a powerful tool in negotiating called "good faith."

You say waiting would show lack of resolve, I say a delay would give you a better opportunity to come to a deal both sides could live with -- and the possibility of avoiding a strike altogether.

You had a 90% authorization to strike. I'm pretty sure the producers understood the guild's resolve.

And I repeat, the threat of a strike gives you leverage at the bargaining table. Now that you are on strike, you have no such leverage.

Yes you are inflicting financial duress on the other side, but you are inflicting the same duress on your own side -- not to mention the thousands of workers who are the collateral damage of the walkout.

mb said...

If you go to YouChoose.net, you can put a petition widget on your blog for people to sign without leaving your blog. To get the link, it has not been officially released yet, you mouse over the "W" in "What's Your Passion". Check it out. Here's the WGA petition on YouChoose: http://www.youchoose.net/campaign/support_the_wga.

English Dave said...

anon number how ever many - 'And if the DGA chooses to punt on the new media issue, it's going to be a repeat of 1988 all over again: A long strike where the WGA ends up with nothing. I hope that isn't the case, however.''

If you knew anything you'd know in that in 88 the AMPTP forced the point that SAG the DGA and the WGA had different negotiating times. Divide and rule.

JimBob said...

I'm not sure I agree that the companies know when the strike will end, when the numbers are going to dictate that it's time to come back to the table, or what to settle for when they do. I think that if they haven't already fully realized it, they are starting to, i.e. that no one buys their poor-mouthing this time around. Even their golf buddies and fellow yachtsmen might be saying, “Are you sure this is good business?” Certainly their shareholders are asking. And no, it isn’t good business.
At the end of WWII, the Allies were desperate to find a way to allow the Japanese, who were in tatters but still obsessed with the need to save face, to surrender. We may have a similar situation with the companies. The writers have made a reasonable offer to the companies, who don’t have a logical leg to stand on. We didn’t demand wild-ass crazy money purely for the exercise of haggling it down to something reasonable. Therefore, we are unlikely to settle for much less, if any less, than what’s on the table. This doesn't leave the companies, who have said, "Nevah!!" much room to maneuver themselves into a face-saving mode of retreat. Maybe we should’ve asked for two bucks per DVD so that by the time they ground us down to twenty cents per DVD they could’ve crowed about how they kicked out butts. They’re going to need something like that, a face-saver, or this puppy is going to last a long time no matter how much it hurts (remember Hiroshima).

English Dave said...

Ang - ''And, as for reason C, there is a powerful tool in negotiating called "good faith."

Don't you think the AMPTP kinda screwed that when they said '''If you take DVD residuals off the table we'll talk''

And the WGA did.
And the AMPTP still walked?

Fvcking troll

Captain Obvious said...

The studios are just stalling for time. They know whatever they agree to with the writers will be a blueprint for what they end up having to agree to for everyone else.

They don't feel like making up their minds yet.

Ang Li Cru said...

English Dave,

Nice language, there! Writers resorting to name calling? Genius.

Look, I'm not saying the AMPTP are angels, here. Far from it. And I've said repeatedly (here and elsewhere) that I support what you are asking for.

I merely suggest that the timing of the strike is short-sited and ill-advised. I think both sides have done a piss-poor job negotiating a new contract; hurting their bases (and all the aforementioned collateral damage) in the process.

Did the AMPTP demonstrate good faith? Nope.

Does that mean the WGA shouldn't have? Or do two wrongs create a good contract?

Anonymous said...

"Does that mean the WGA shouldn't have?"

I don't see what actions of the WGA weren't in good faith?

Ang Li Cru said...

xAnon,

What I mean is this:

If the WGA had continued to negotiate for more than 5 calendar days beyond the expiration of the contract, this would have been a "good faith negotiating stance" as opposed to what CC suggested would have demonstrated a "lack of resolve."

I'm not suggesting that the WGA did not negotiate in good faith, I'm merely defending my statement from English Dave's suggestion that because the AMPTP were perceived to be a-holes, that they didn't deserve good faith from the Guild.

That's just not the way a negotiation, especially one of this magnitude, works.

Captain Obvious said...

ang there's this thing called solidarity that you should embrace if someone that shares a common opponent with you is in a bind.


What's done is done. You can wax philosophical or psychic about what happened, what could have gone differently, what you think should have happened as an observer, and how things might've been under different circumstances best reserved for a bad episode of SLIDERS; but the fact still remains that what is most certainly is.

Rather than assisting the opposition by promoting anti-strike rhetoric (and thereby assisting, even if only in a very minor way, the studios in this situation (and thereby helping the writers to a bad deal to effect a self-fulfilling prophecy and the option of an "I told you so")) you should, as I said, simply embrace solidarity so that when you run into a major stumbling block someday you can hope to find some solidarity waiting for you, too...

English Dave said...

Ang - ''Look, I'm not saying the AMPTP are angels, here. Far from it. And I've said repeatedly (here and elsewhere) that I support what you are asking for.''

Support like you have exhibited thus far isn't reaslly doing it. Give me a logical argument rather that a ''you are making me suffer''

Strikes are the last resort. I agree. But given the situation that was the only resort.

Angel said...

Working under no contract is not acceptable. You wouldn't do it, so why do you expect anyone else to do it? 5 days post-contract ending allowed for some pretty serious revelations as to who was ready to negotiate in good faith.

The AMPTP wanted the WGA to take dvd residuals off the table. The WGA did. The AMPTP then walked away, despite assuring everyone involved that they would bargain at that point if the WGA conceded that issue.

What exactly are you not understanding here? Striking after one side refused to bargain anymore is completely acceptable. The WGA gave in on a major demand to further negotiations before striking...and the AMPTP refused to continue negotiations. After they were given what they wanted.

This information can only be repeated so many times.

Ang Li Cru said...

I think perhaps I've worn out my welcome here.

My intention in posting was not to troll the site, but to offer up a different (not necessarily opposing) viewpoint to the Writers' position.

I've been visiting the site often since the strike started, and I think it's a great source for all us to understand where the Writers are coming from.

But I also think that lately it's been a bit of a fishbowl -- one that's maybe out of step with what else is happening in Hollywood.

The rhetoric of "we'll fight for weeks, 6 months, a year, or more" is something that I know is meant to show resolve to the opponent. But it also has the effect of weakening support among your co-workers (or, rather, co-unemployed).

Believe me, I KNOW you guys don't want this strike to go on forever. But I'm not sure you realize how badly we below-the-liners don't want it happening at all.

You want solidarity from the other unions, but WGA did not seek the input or advice of my local, or any of the IA (or DGA or SAG? I don't know).

The perception of the below-the-liners is that both sides of this negotiation are to blame for this walkout. This is my own feeling, and I hear it everywhere on set.

The Tom Short letter didn't help things, so I'm not defending IA as models of perfect behavior either.

I'm just calling 'em as I see 'em -- this strike is going to last a VERY long time, and hurt a LOT of people.

In a time of mortgage crises, economic uncertainty and political trouble; unemployment is added to the mix...

On the contrary to your suggestion, I'm praying I NEVER get to say "I told you so."

-A loyal reader

PS - It has not gone unnoticed that this site repeatedly asks merchants to offer discounts to all crew members, not just WGA. I, for one, appreciate this sentiment.

I really do hope this ends well.

Captain Obvious said...

Awww ang. This isn't an exclusive club around here. I don't think we're trying to drive you off.

At the same time, though, I'm sure you didn't expect to be greeted with flowers and smiles anymore than Rumsfeld did... ;)

English Dave said...

But I also think that lately it's been a bit of a fishbowl -- one that's maybe out of step with what else is happening in Hollywood.

''The rhetoric of "we'll fight for weeks, 6 months, a year, or more" is something that I know is meant to show resolve to the opponent. But it also has the effect of weakening support among your co-workers (or, rather, co-unemployed).''

Oh fuck off. Your ''co-workers'' are fully aware that WGA residuals pay for a large percentage of your health and pensions. Your co-workers are fully aware that we are in this together.

I seriously doubt if you are a co-worker. If you were you would get that.

Doctor Science said...

It's hard to believe that the studios' financial planning has factored in the long-term damage they've done themselves. They are killing copyright.

One of the reasons young people don't care about making illegal copies is that not enough money goes to the people who do the creative work (which is what copyright is supposed to protect). By loosening or even cutting the ties between copyright and the creatives, the studios are giving the green light to file sharing -- and the light was no more than yellow already.

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

I don't think Anonymous neccessarily believes that AMPTP's strategy "strengthens them, that their cynical calculations protect them, and that their focus on oligarchic power guarantees success." I read Anonymous's comments to mean that this is what AMPTP believes.

Such a strategy is cynical and unethical. It may also be doomed. But it's congruent with my experience of executive management. I agree with Anonymous that this is certainly the thinking at AMPTP.

What's an ethical imperative to labor is merely a cost-variable to management. When negotiation offers the best route to protecting profits, they'll magically become our good buddies and hold the chair for us as they sit back down to talk.

Anonymous said...

Thank you John. You have gauged my intent exactly. My point is how the AMPTP views it, not whether or not it is effective.

I am a striking writer, picketing daily, with no affinity for the AMPTP. I, like you, just happen to have experience from the business side.

At this late hour, I am thrilled to hear that the WGA and AMPTP will be returning to the bargaining table on November 26.

I and my fellow guild members would love nothing more than to prevent any more losses for below-the-line workers and end this month with a fair contract for writers.

Captain Obvious said...

Doctor Science I love the comments about the studios' actions killing copyright. It has a grain of truth to it.

Most people that would have any moral impulse to pay for content are going to do it because they want to support those that created that content. Keep in mind, the creation of film content ultimately begins on a page.

...and we're all on the same one.

Anonymous said...

English Dave - I agree with your post.

''The rhetoric of "we'll fight for weeks, 6 months, a year, or more" is something that I know is meant to show resolve to the opponent. But it also has the effect of weakening support among your co-workers (or, rather, co-unemployed).''

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