11/08/2007

Scabbing Doesn't Pay (For Long)

A picketer at Prospect Studios sent in a disturbing report that some daytime dramas have already hired scabs.

"The scab writers work under fake names, work from home and use different email addresses so only the EP knows the real identities of the scabs. These tend to be experienced soap writers who aren't currently on a show. They are then promised employment after the strike is over. While they're scabbing, they get paid less than union writers. The networks see this as cheaper than shutting down production, as a soap has an enormous amount of cast, and paying out their contracts while they don't work makes this deal seem financially better."

Here's something for scabs to think about: As much as a producer might be upset at a writer for going on strike, consider what he or she must feel about you. At least a striking writer is taking a stand. The producer may disagree with that stand, but ultimately appreciates that the writer believes in it strongly enough to walk out at great personal risk. When the producer looks at you, he or she sees -- and this is a legal term -- a miserable opportunistic leech. Once the strike is settled, do you really think your producer wants you around, Scabby McScab? If nothing else, you're a reminder of The Troubles. You're like a tattoo with a typo obtained during a bachelorette party that took a bad turn after the Bacardi Breezers ran out. You will be removed.

You doubt me, Scabbington? Then let the screenwriters Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn scare you straight with their latest podcast. Right at the twenty-minute mark, they tell the mournful story of a scab from '88. SPOILER: His career and soul get murdered.

55 comments:

Daniel Aaron said...

I have absolutely nothing against someone being will to work and be paid and agreed upon wage for his or her work. As far as the "plight of the WGA" please no tears here. I know how the union works why do you thinkmost movies and T.V shows suck. Poor writing is a big part. Why because of all the loop holes and crap you have to go thru just to get in a stupid union. They pat each other on the back and churn out crap so who cares. Personally if some studio wanted to pay me for my work and I agreed with what they wanted I would walk right thru there little picket lines and any one who tried to stop me would catch one to the chin. Everyone in Hollywood is over paid thats how it is. You have people making insane amounts of money to write crap and hold other's out of the loop thru by laws so who cares. I believe these folks should remember back to the day they sold there first script and remember how blessed they are to have an opportunity to do what they love even though many just churn out uninspired trash and if i ever do get the call and l pursue it anyone calls me a "scab" for trying to make a living and put food on my table will catch one to the chin also and can hop back in there BMW and say to themselves "i cant believe he just did that". And as far as a black listing or fear of ..please im a Christian and in hollywood thats the order of the day anyway.People need to just work and be happy they are being paid as much as they are or open there own studio.

Korvar The Fox said...

I think my irony meter just broke.

Anonymous said...

Personally I'm suspicious of the scabs at the daytime dramas being the show's regular writers trying to be stealth. Especially with General Hospital. I just can't see writers like that who keep such strict control and show no loyalty to their co-workers walking away for solidarity.

Anonymous said...

Or, they are greatfull to some people who helped them out when the need is greatest and you are writing propaganda?

Jake said...

For someone who is barely a writer and has a very shitty movie to his credit, he sure is wielding a big stick when it comes to people trying to earn a living. Maybe he has unlimited funds somewhere and can stay out of work forever, but some need to support themselves now.

Holly said...

I support the writers and I think an aspiring writer would be an idiot to scab.

HOWEVER, this rant seems a rather childish. "Scabby McScab"? Really? It would have been better just to reiterate what will happen to scabbers when they are discovered.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little amazed by some of these comments. I mean, I know that this is 21st century America, and that labor is in a generally pitiful state right now, but do you guys not know about unions? Do you not understand what it means to cross a picket line?

People do not need to "just work and be happy they are being paid as much as they are"; people need to work for just (as in fair) pay. How can anyone look at this strike and accuse the writers of greed? You should be lobbing that one at Sumner Redstone, my friend, not at the average WGA member, who, like you, is trying to make a living, put food on his table, and make the car payments on what is almost certainly not a BMW.

Anonymous said...

RE: "Do you not understand what it means to cross a picket line?"

Yes, it means you are trying to work for someone who wants to pay you.

On a purely practical basis your probably taking some risk (esp. in jobs where you can't e-mail in your work), but in moral terms it just a voluntary mutually beneficial exchange, that for the most part is no one else's business.

Members of a union do and should have the right to refuse to provide a service, but they don't properly have a right to prevent others from providing the service.

Tim

Marco said...

This is the problems with Unions in general: threats and backlisting. The WGA will eat its own here and be forced to sign a crappy deal, they have no leverage here, they do not provide a necessary service. For the WGA to threaten other people who want to make a living while their Union is fighting a (hopefully) losing battle.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight...

1. A corporation has an explicit and urgent need to fill a particular employment opportunity, because the people who used to fill these job roles wanted more money.

2. The company fills these positions with those willing to do the job for the offered rate of pay.

3. You persecute those willing to perform a job function in return for monetary compensation.

It's quite easy to draw parallels to the kind of hatred people have toward illegal immigrants being hired by corporations to fill jobs that others have abandoned, because the rate of pay wasn't sufficient.

waltisfrozen said...

The funniest part :

They are then promised employment after the strike is over.

Uhhh..yeah. Like a producer is going to want to exacerbate post-strike tensions by throwing some new dude into the writers room. "Welcome back, guys. We brought in a new writer whose first day on the job just happens to be the day you all return from the picket lines."

I somewhat disagree with the whole bit about the producers respecting writers who "take a stand", but it's worth pointing out to potential scabs that the writers on the lines today are tomorrows head writers, showrunners, and, yes, producers. In other words, it's probably not a good idea to piss off your future boss by stealing his job.

Greg said...

Wow. Studio trolls are out in force. (2 of them anonymous, I note…)
Here's the deal, just in case any of those comments were genuinely misguided:
The striking writers are trying to get a better deal for anyone who's a writer. Strikes sometimes work, and they work because writers stick together. Someone who crosses a picket line is hurting both his own future chances to make money off his work, and is hurting other writers' chances to get fair compensation for every writer.

And, Daniel Aaron, there are a lot of good writers producing a lot of good stuff. In film terms, directors and, more often, corporate studio heads have the power to fire writers & rewrite at will. If you see something bad, chances are better than 50% it was taken out of the writer's hands.

Anonymous said...

IMHO the trade in question is one such as WRITING where passion and fervor drive many artists deeply. Many of these artists are still proverbially starving. For them, the politics of a Union might be second to the desperation and sheer need to get a paycheck for their writing; no matter how measly or controversial. Non-guilded writers are not all bad ones.

Marco said...

What no one understands is that the writers are fighting a corporate behemoth that can see its entertainment divisions sit idle for awhile. Do you think GE cares about the writers? They can drop NBC tomorrow and not see a dent in their profits. This is the problem that writers don't understand is that they are not hurting the bottom line by being out on the picket lines. It's to their peril that they stay out. What I think will happen is that the writers will cave. Or else a lot of shows will be canceled and a lot of people out of work. There will be many homes lost too as people will not be able to pay rent or their mortgage. The struggling writer who needs his check to make ends meet should think about that.

Stephanie said...

Out of control and unchecked corporate greed is probably one of the biggest threats to freedom and democracy we have today. People must organize - and any writer who crosses the picket line is at best an idiot who doesn't understand that he is ultimately shooting himself in the foot here.

As for daniel, who is obviously bitter and has this inane idea that "everyone in Hollywood is over paid" - you obviously don't know any real people working in Hollywood. The TV writers I know - some of whom have written for major shows - are not driving around in BMWs. Some of them are struggling, even after years of working for a top show.

To say that "everyone in Hollywood is over paid" is like saying that just because an actor got one national commercial, they are now rich. Yeah, that's why all the non-famous working actors I know are also tending bar and working other jobs even while they are getting spots on national TV.

I'm not in the industry, but as a writer I fully support this strike and I'm following it with interest, because I believe it affects all writers.

"Scabby McScab" made me laugh, by the way. Some people need a sense of humor.

Toni said...

"I know how the union works why do you thinkmost movies and T.V shows suck."

Blaming the writer for the final product is a little bit like blaming the alligator for the kind of shoes someone made. The writer provides the original version--but it is then heavily influenced and changed by other factors: actor availability, various executive mandates, wrong-headed focus group questions, and hundreds of other things.

So then, you say, there's nothing wrong with someone stepping in to make a living, and in the same argument, suggest that most TV shows and films suck. [Yeah, there's an attitude which will improve TV and Film.] People who step in to just make a living are going to write to the mandate of the studio hiring them. They won't have a choice about that. They're going to deliver whatever will get them a check... and if you think TV and films are bad now, just wait 'til someone who isn't familiar with the show, who is more than willing just to please the MBA types at corporate, turn in their versions.

Shows end, for the most part. The exception is daytime, but cycles there end, too, and writers come and go. When they go, they often do not immediately go to another show--sometimes it takes years to get on another show, to sell another idea. Writing is what they know how to do. They can get part-time jobs, sure, they can even leave the business. But do you really want to keep the turnover so high that you never have an experienced writer--one who's learned from mistakes, one who's learned how to do it better--sticking around? Do you really want an entire entertainment industry of freshmen? It would be like having a construction site and getting rid of the experienced guys and hiring a bunch of college seniors to build the bridge or the building. They won't know how or have had the chance to learn from someone who knows how to do it, because those people won't have a reason to stick around in the industry.

Meanwhile, the studio is making money on the shows the writer created by selling advertising on the internet and allowing people to download. The writer? Will make nothing. Since when, exactly, is America for taking someone's work and giving them absolutely nothing for it, while the corporation gets rich? Is that really what you stand for? Because this "I don't see anything wrong with someone else getting paid for their work" means that ultimately, *they won't get paid* for it. Their work will go out there and earn money for the corporation, but they won't see anything else, except the very first tiny amount (and it is tiny, especially if the studio doesn't have to abide by Guild minimums). What are they going to do when, six months from now, that job is over and they can't get another one, (whether someone knew they were scabbing or not), and their family needs to be fed?

I guess they can always ask if you want fries with that, but I, for one, would like to see them make money from what they created. I hope we're not turning into a country where it's just so much more important to get the immediate paycheck, and not look at the long-term. (And if all they needed was a paycheck? There are other industries to work in where residuals are not an issue.) Because if a lot of people scab, there won't be a long-term. The TV will merge with the internet, and writers of any caliber--the good ones who keep TV and films from sucking--won't stick around. Entertainment will be devoid of creative people and we might as well start calling it Advertainment, because that's all we're going to get.

When we kill our stories, we kill our culture. If writers don't benefit, can't make a living, can't know that they could provide for their family, then they're going to quit telling the stories. And we really will be Corporate America at that point.

dan said...

the WGA has jeopardized the support of a lot of people in this town based on its complicity in creating such an insular culture... scabbing is a result of its own policies...

it is incredibly difficult to get into the guild because you need to publish, but thats tough because you need to submit your work to production companies, but they wont read it without an agent, and an agent wont talk to you without connections or being previously published... a vicious cycle...

as an aspiring/failed writer that gave up the ghost and became (gasp!) a lawyer, and had previously worked as a PA/WA since junior high, it is hard to support a guild that goes out of its way to exclude people...

that being said, i support the cause and the fight (especially from the economic perspective), but lets tone down the rhetoric...

the longer this goes, the more "scabby mcscabs" will start popping up... many of them guild members, and few might end up being the next David Milch (who has been strangely silent)...

kate and john: keep up the posting, because its a great service... thanks for keeping us all informed via dispatches from the frontlines...

Anonymous said...

Soap opera writers, those currently employed on a show and those currently out of work, are in a very tough situation here. They have the least to gain from the strike (residuals being practically a non-issue for them) and the most to lose. If production shuts down and those shows go off the air for any significant period of time, they aren't coming back. So while I disapprove of scabbing in principle, I have a hard time judging anyone who feels like this is a necessary step in order to keep the daytime industry alive.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a WGA writer. I'm just getting my start writing professionally, so, other than two options and a work-for-hire job for a non-signatory company, I've not done much professional writing yet. I have a wife, lots of bills, and every reason to try to "break in" by scabbing. I need the money.

But sometimes standing by one's principles is more important than a quick paycheck. When people in a union I hope to soon be in are sacrificing in order to get a better collective deal for all present and future members, the response should not be to undermine them. It should be one of support.

Which is why, while I'm too busy working ten hour days to walk the picket line, I still try to do what I can to support those who are out there, working up blisters.

I hope the guys at Universal enjoyed the six dozen donuts I dropped off this morning, on my way to work. I'll try to stop by with more sometime next week, on my way to work.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the ignorance in these comments is just mindblowing. Particularly the first one. Clearly you guys have absolutely no clue as to what is going on here.

These writers are fighting for pay for what they are not currently being paid for. The movie studios pay what is in their contract and not a penny more. The writer's contracts, negotiated in the 80s, only covers residuals for television and physical media sales. It does NOT cover broadcasting over the internet. So when X show gets played on TV, the writer gets paid a small residual. When the same show gets played on the internet, the writer does not get paid at all. They are fighting so they can get a residual from internet broadcasting as well.

If you want to take this a step further, television is changing from what it is now to a data service across the internet. When that happens, under the current contract, the studios legally would not have to pay a cent to these writers.

So, how would you like to work for no pay at all?

Hehe, you guys are so wrong it is pathetic.

Marco said...

Some of the ignorant comments around here are from people who support the writers. First of all, the revenue stream of the Internet has not been totally developed yet, so for the WGA to say they are missing out on something is disingenious at best. The public en masse does not yet watch TV on their computer - most prefer the comfort of a couch instead of looking at a computer screen at their desk. So, when the Internet becomes the primary way for people to watch TV, then and only then should the writers be compensated for it.

Toni said...

marco, as long as there is a structure for payment for it, sure. Are you suggesting they wait 'til after the fact, after it's already "primary" for the writers to then negotiate their fee? So what happens to all of the income in the interim years between the TV being delivered via internet and the writer's next contract negotiation? And secondly? That strategy completely backfired on DVD. The writers agreed to take less until the DVD market had proven itself. It has. The studios won't give them more. So by your very argument, you're proposing that the writers wait 'til it's already a done thing (internet TV) *and* trust the people who already didn't increase revenue when a different platform increased in sales and delivery? These are not exactly strong arguments for waiting.

Marco said...

Toni, perhaps I should have been a little more clearer. What I would do if I were negotiating on behalf of the writers is say to the producers that if they believe that this Internet revenue stream is too "new" and hasn't been totally figured out yet, then you can do a sliding scale of compensation where the compensation right now is small, but as Internet viewing gets more in the mainstream, the compensation will grow. Simply, the more money the companies make, the more money the writers can make.

Stephanie said...

Marco, right now the companies *are* making money off the Internet but they pay the writers SQUAT for it. So what if the networks aren't making a billion online yet? A percentage is a percentage. Zero percent of $10,000 is just zero, while 1% of $10,000 is $100. So you're telling me that if a network makes a mere $10,000 on airing something online, something that they already bankrolled via old media, they can't afford to pay the writer of that episode a measly $100? Gimme a break. The writers must stand firm for online residuals now or they will never get them.

Anonymous said...

The "I Love the 90's" talking head is actually trying to call other people out?

Now that's a lot funnier than lines like "Scabby McScab" -- I guess we know why imdb.com shows you have only two writing credits in the last 13 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of sick of the Blanky McBlank thing now. I'm pretty sure it was a Simpsons joke,and was that never all that funny to begin with

It's all over the place now and has officially jumped the proverbial shark. When you come off of strike, please make a new joke-reference-insult-template. Put it on The Office. It will catch on.

David Alexander McDonald said...

Daniel Aaron, your illiteracy rather blows your argument, you trolling toad.


As for why there's so much crap that hits the screen, well, to be honest about it there's so much interference from talentless illiterates in the management food chain that's a shock to realize that anything good makes it out of the door.


Creatives in film and television get paid (when they get paid, which is not as often as it ought to be for the good ones) better than creatives in many other media (who don't have a Guild functioning to support them in the art of not getting completely screwed) but it's still short-changing them by a *long* chalk.


Gonna stop here now. I'm about to start seething.


Oh yeah, "Christian" twat, making a threat of violence is really intelligent. I'll tell you now, idiot -- try to punch a Gild picketer in the jaw, and you'll be flattened with strike signs in .02 seconds flat...and charged with assault.

Anonymous said...

For anyone who would like to find out more about "daniel aaron", a good start would be to go here:

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?journalid=453959

Unfortunately, he's as much of an idiot and an ass there as he was here, meaning he probably is an ass and an idiot...

Doug J said...

Scab Hunter

Scabby Hayes

Scaberella

Anonymous said...

A lot of the critical comments on this post go too far.

But yeah, it's a poor post which fails to communicate the WGA's vision to the general public.

boadicea said...

Daniel Aaron, I have one word for you.

Paragraphs.

John Aboud said...

Wow. Pushed some buttons here! I guess that's what I get for trying to put the medicine in a spoonful of sugar. This is a serious issue, so let me have a go at it again without jokes. I must say that there are many excellent comments here from people who got what I was going for, and I thank everyone who took the time to respond.

A commenter calling himself "jake" writes: "For someone who is barely a writer and has a very shitty movie to his credit, he sure is wielding a big stick when it comes to people trying to earn a living."

Gee, that's a little harsh, isn't it Dad?

What I'm trying to say is this: There is a right way and a wrong way to get a job in the business. Scabbing is the wrong way. Let's imagine the WGA Strike Rules Discipline Committee doesn't catch you, and you land a job after the strike that you helped break is history. Congratulations! You just got a job that you helped ensure has worse working conditions, fewer creative rights and lower compensation. As a wise rapper once put it, "You played yourself." And that's the best case scenario.

Today, someone demonstrated the right way to get a job. This guy walked up to me and Sam Ernst on the picket line outside Disney and said, direct quote here, "I have a lot of stories on my computer. What do I do?" We were happy to tell him our respective paths into the industry and point him to some very useful resources. And to Robert McKee.

Scabbing is not "trying to earn a living." It's being a willing partner in your own exploitation.

(Psst! And to "jake" and the anonymous VH1 watcher: You fellas can request my three-page credits list from CAA anytime. IMDb doesn't reflect the output of working writers. Just as finished movies often don't reflect our scripts. That is something that you will discover when you are in the biz and working under the fair and just contract that we worked so hard to win for ourselves and for you.)

Anonymous said...

Marco, that doesn't make any sense. As a writer, nobody is entitled to make money off of your work without giving you a percentage.Whether or not the internet is the primary means to watch TV doesn't make a damn bit of difference. If the studio makes money, even if its one dollar, you make money, even if it's only a tiny percentage of that one dollar. It's not okay for the studios to continually rip you off until they reach profit levels of a billion dollars, just like it's not okay for your publishing company to refuse to compensate you for e-book sales just because e-books aren't the primary means of reading.

You know, with your tremendous concern for studio profits, you should know that residuals are in the studios' interest. They pay writers less money up front and agree to owe them the rest in residuals. That way, if a TV show is unsuccessful, not released into syndication and not downloaded on the internet, they save lots of money. But again, when the studios make money, the writers are entitled to the comensation they deferred on the front end.

Get back to us when you agree to defer your salary until the company you work for starts making a profit, and you're shocked, shocked, that when they do instead of paying you what you earned for the work you performed you're told to screw off.

nash said...

Wow -- that first comment really does capture the "shut up and be a happy wage slave" mentality perfectly -- if not always with clarity, appropriate punctuation, correct spelling, etc.

I have to admit: my first thought on hearing "Hollywood writers strike" was "greedy bastards," but that's only because, like many Americans, I've been well conditioned to think that (a) everyone in Hollywood is glitzy and rich and (b) a worker's proper place is to take what they're given and not rock the boat. Ten seconds of actual THOUGHT later, though, and a little inquiry into the actual issues at stake, and I couldn't be more delighted to see so many creative people taking a stand for the simple, elegant principle that workers deserve a fairer share of the wealth they help to create. It really is that freaking simple, and I'm sorry for the people here who are too busy seething with resentment, cringing like obedient dogs, or trolling for their corporate masters to see this basic moral truth.

Speaking of scabs, some of the visitors here might be interested in reading Jack London's pithy, profound little essay on the topic:

http://london.sonoma.edu/Writings/WarOfTheClasses/scab.html

Best wishes,

--nashtbrutusandshort
Categorical Aperitif

Anonymous said...

"That is something that you will discover when you are in the biz and working under the fair and just contract that we worked so hard to win for ourselves and for you."

Exactly why are you assuming anyone that disagrees with your opinion must be some aspiring writer?

Man, talk about an ego... maybe I'm just a consumer that's going to get shafted with shelling more money out of my pockets after you win that new contact that you "worked so hard to win" for yourself. You're not actually so naive to think the the studios are just going to eat whatever new costs your strike generates and not pass them along to the consumer, are you?

David Alexander McDonald said...

Anonymous fearing costs: errr, cinema ticket prices are going to keep rising no matter what because a) the studios need to keep their profit margins up and b) the theater chains are trying to make money SOMEhow, and 15% of an $11 ticket is better than $15% of an $8 ticket; cable costs will rise because the cable companies are greedy bastards; DVD prices will remain along the same range, as will DVD rentals.

And then there's regular broadcast TV. Which will remain free, although you might want to spend $4000 on a big screen unit, just because.

What the studios spend on ways of stopping you using your purchases in any way you want, by the way, is contributing more to the cost of media delivery than ANY increase to the writers ever would. Paying writers four cents more for DVD doesn't justify a five dollar increase in DVD prices. Greed from the corporations explains it well enough though.

Karen Harris said...

To oneof the 'anonymous' writers who accuses General Hospital in specific of scabbing. My name is Karen, and I write GH. I'm also one of the founders of the new daytime writers commitee, I've just been appointed to the Strike Rules Committee (we meet today for the first time) and I've been doing double shifts on the picket line. I have seen our writers out there every single day, wearing red, leading chants, anxious about what will happen to our show but standing united. Our headwriter has a blown out knee that needs replacing, but he's been sitting on the picket line. (One writer lives in N.M. so he's not here, the other 2 are in NY.) Yes, we're unhappy, yes we may even be control freaks, but where on earth do you get the idea that they show no loyalty to their co-workers? We've had the same writing team for 3 years! That's unheard of in daytime. So while I abhor people who are willing to take our checks while we're striking for fair conditions for them, It's thoroughly irresponsible to make specific accusations when you don't know what you're talking about. If you have names, or evidence of the people who started writing any of the soaps the minute we hit the pavement, please call the guild. Otherwise, go out and picket and don't turn this into a McCarthy tactic of calling everyone a scab. You're speculation quickly turns into someone else's fact ("I read it on the internet" is going to become the most dangerous phrase of the decade). I'm off to meet my team at Fox.

Anonymous said...

I support the WGA because I support fair sharing of profits, but viewers wont know the difference if scabs are writing the shows or not. One thing that unions don't do is to guarantee quality of work to the employer. I can't tell who's really leeching who anymore. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

I think a whole bunch of people here are missing the point behind scabs and what they do to undermine the efforts of the striking workforce, especially given the unique situation in Hollywood. It’s been plainly laid out that the two big things writers want are an increase in the paltry residuals they are paid for DVD sales (roughly $0.01 per $5 in revenue) and some sort of residuals assurance on internet content, which is a lot more profitable than most people realize. There may only be a half dozen commercials to sit through when watching a streaming episode of “The Office” on NBC.com, but practically every cost associated with streaming that episode is already paid for, so whatever revenue is generated by the ads shown is almost pure profit to the network. Why wouldn’t the writer’s be entitled to a residual of that amount?

But I digress, we’re talking about scabs and why they are a very bad thing. Let’s step back for a moment and look at the big picture. Forget the writers, it doesn’t matter if you support them wholeheartedly or could care less about them. They are only a small part of the process. You also have actors, directors, teamsters, hair an makeup artists, costume and special effects folks, and technical crew, all of whom have integral parts to play in making TV shows and movies come to life. Guess what, most of those folks get residuals also. Actors and directors get them directly, like the writers. Teamsters and technical crew members get them indirectly, as deposits to their health insurance and pension funds. If the writers can’t win residuals on internet content, why would the studios suddenly get generous with the actors, teamsters or crews when their unions/guilds want to negotiate? 5 or even 10 years from now, when content via the internet is a major revenue source for studios on par with DVD sales today, none of these folks will see any revenue from that if the writer’s can’t force the studios to an agreement with this strike. That means a significantly smaller revenue stream down the road for actors and directors, which may not bring a tear to your eye, but it also means little or no health insurance or pension for thousands of teamsters and crew members, blue collar workers who support the industry by doing more than a full day’s labor for blue collar wages. These are people with families, people who just want to earn a decent living and provide for those families.

Crossing the line as a scab undermines the bargaining power of the workers on strike. It gives the studios the ability to stay away from the bargaining table and attempt to force the concession of the striking workers by prolonging the strike. Sure it might get you paid now, and it might provide for your family now, but at what cost? If the WGA has to back down and accept concessions now, it sets the standard for bargaining with the other unions in the future. In 5 years, the studios could be broadcasting billions of dollars worth of content online, and they could define “online” as anything that streams over IP, which could include many cable systems and other direct-to-TV delivery methods, leaving writers, actors, teamsters and crew with ZERO revenue from said content. Crossing the lines as a scab doesn’t just stick it to the writers, it endangers the jobs and livelihoods of everyone from actors to truck and bus drivers to cameramen, sound and lighting guys. You’re taking food off their table and health insurance away from their kids. Are you really so desperate to break in as a writer that you’d do it at the expense of all those hard working people and their families? Scabbing is wrong, plain and simple.

NOTE: I am not a writer. I am not even associated with the industry at all. I’m just an average working Joe who happens to support the rights of the writers and other people involved to be fairly compensated for their work.

Anonymous said...

I'm not generally a fan of unions; my personal experience has been nothing but negative, and I think their usefulness in almost all industries is long gone.

I'm not even sure of their usefulness in the entertainment industry, to be honest -- but I can tell you that it's patently unfair to sell advertising on internet broadcasts of shows and not share that revenue with the writers. The entire point of residuals seems to be that the creators of material should be compensated down the road as the rights-holders find new ways to profit off the material; therefore, it's common sense that new distribution channels should be included in these setups.

I think most people feel similarly; it's just common sense. And it's certainly, in my eyes at least, a better argument for going out on strike than these crybabies who walk out because they're suddenly being asked to contribute -- for the first time! -- to their insurance coverage. That sort of thing just pisses off those of us who've been working in the real world our whole lives -- but you guys have a real cause here.

Good luck.

BTW, if anyone knows where I can sign up to write some GH episodes while this is happening, let me know. I think it's my big chance to get some canon Sonny/Jason slash onscreen!

Anonymous said...

What I find funny is that some of these 'scabs' aren't members of you your precious union because they were turned down when they tried to join. Folks with writing credit in other media have tried and been told no.

So why would they care about writing something because the guys who wouldn't let them in are on strike?

Anonymous said...

Dan Aaron, I got a good laugh out of your post.

My favorite was how you managed to work in "please im a Christian" after twice saying you'd punch people on the picket lines in the face. Yeah, I'm sure face-punching is EXACTLY what Jesus would do...

Anonymous said...

To the 'anonymous' person who seems to think he/she knows so much about the General Hospital writing team, I happen to be a member of that team. I've spent the last week on the picket line outside my own studio with my fellow writers, and I'm insulted by your ill-informed, scurrulous accusation. Exactly what do you think you know about the inner dynamics of our team? A team - as my co-writer Karen Harris mentioned - that has been together for years? Your bitterness raises my suspicion? Did you try to get on the show and didn't make the cut? Have a trial deal and didn't get picked up? Oh, well. Sorry. That doesn't give you the right to accuse us of being scabs. This strike will be costly to us, but we're committed to it. You need to check your facts.

Michele Val Jean

Anonymous said...

"When the producer looks at you, he or she sees -- and this is a legal term -- a miserable opportunistic leech."

Yeah, and sometimes "scabs" are remembered as -- and this is the legal phrase-- people who showed loyalty to their employers at great personal risk to themselves. Sometimes they even get rewarded for that loyalty.

Advertising the fact that some WGA members are continuing to work during a strike only makes the WGA look weak. Is that what you want?

_=(SLAVIK)=_ said...

I'm a little amazed by some of these comments.
Siberian uglozub – unique amphibious Seashore. A kind is known the wide natural habitat and low geographical changeability. Except for the Seashore edge dwells on Kamchatka, Sakhaline, Kuril Islands, in the Russian area of taiga, north Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Korea and Japan.

Anonymous said...

GH writers,

Thanks for your comments! Fans love you both btw, although we're very upset with the quality of the show (and have been for a while). I'd personally love for either of you to become the new Headwriter.

On subject of scabs, if soaps don't use them, the soap opera genre is dead. Soaps have the most to lose and won't get anything out of this strike. The idiots in charge won't release DVDs, although fans will be hundreds of dollars for fan events, scripts, etc. There is a market, but they aren't exploring it. Then soaps aren't really replayed on the net either.

I am not willing to risk this television tradition going away FOREVER due to a writer's strike which won't help them. If soaps are pulled, especially GH which is hitting record lows each week, those viewers WILL NOT be back!

When primetime shows return, they'll have endless promotion, soaps will have none. There is no way we can survive a long term strike without scabs.

Chris

Erin said...

Great post, Chris, I agree! Most of the bickering in this thread is way off point; I thought we were talking about soaps? The repercussions of this strike on the daytime genre are apt to be quite different from primetime and film. I don't think ANY of us -- writers, producers, actors or fans -- have the luxury of seeing these shows go off the air for any length of time should this thing go on indefinitely. The reality is that many of these shows won't come back. And as someone who has been watching soaps -- GH and DAYS specifically -- for three decades, that's the last thing I want to see. In theory, of course I'm behind the writers 100%. Fair is fair and I see no reason the studios should be cheating the writers out of their share; after all, without writers, they'd have no movies to produce and sell on DVDs in the first place. OTOH, as a soap fan, I'm really more interested in seeing that my daily vice stays intact and though it pains me to say it, if that means hiring scabs in the meantime, then I'm sorry, but so be it. Standing on principle in this instance seems a little like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face; a lot of good it will do if there are no soaps for these writers to come back to.

I also echo your frustration at the fact that the studios won't release DVDs of classic storylines. I know I'd pay for them. It's baffling that they haven't explored this untapped market. Since they're apparently hogging all the residuals anyway, you'd think they'd want to be selling them. They'd be making money hand over fist.

And to Michele and Karen: I hope this thing is resolved to everyone's satisfaction soon. You ladies have written some of my favorite SKate moments and I am looking forward to more! :-)

Ornithophobe said...

I see several daytime writers responding in this thread, so it seems worth taking the chance to ask... how does someone make the move into writing for the soaps?

I'm asking merely as a lowly college student, considering my career options. I grew up watching soap operas; the medium is near and dear to my heart. In the last few years I've really been concerned about the future of the genre. I support the strike- it's ridiculous to assume anyone should be working for free- but I can't help worrying about what happens if the strike continues too long, and the networks decide serial drama is no longer a ratings winner. (NBC is already perilously close to that point.)

I'm a little worried that by the time I'm out of school, there won't be openings in the field.

Anonymous said...

hi!

I was asked to scab by a major network. Just to let you know they offer WGA scale (irony of all irony) I'm broke and two months behind on rent but I said no because writing is my love and when i finally get to make it, i want to be able to put my real name on the episode. still...it was hard. now i have to get a temp job. god i hate white out and office banter. But right on WGA. I'm behind you.

legallink said...

Let me say first, I am totally in support of the WGA and the issues that they are standing firm on. As a lawyer, I am used to looking at the facts of both sides, and picking one...I pick you. I drove 40 minutes to Pico to support you and your position on the issues.
With that said, you all would be very smart to just stop stop all this talk about scabs and whether it is good or bad. Seriously, you are going to lose the positive public support that you have. Your position is righteous...but to suggest that writers or let's face it, wannabe writers who don't belong to your union, can't get any of the benefits of your union, and wouldn't be let in if they asked, should not pay their bills or feed their family for your cause. Seriously, it's too much. You can be sure that if the powers that be could replace all of you and get the same quality with scabs, they would. Forget about the scabs....don't worry about blacklisting and name calling..stay confident that you are talent that can't be replaced.

Erin said...

I spend a lot of time on the Internet, and I can't recall the last time I saw so many cringe-worthy and poorly constructed bits of lanuage all in one place. I don't think it's a coincidence that the number of typos in these comments seems to be in direct proportion to the amount of pro-corporate twaddle contained therein. I suppose it's easy to disdain those who write for a living when one cannot punctuate one's way out of a wet paper bag.

For those of you joining us from the turnip truck, unions raise the standard of living across the board. When a union wins a major victory, it places pressure on employers of non-union workers to increase pay and benefits for their employees as well, lest they leave for union jobs. Do you enjoy your weekends? Your standard forty-hour work weeks? They are two of an infinite number of protections secured for workers - union or not - by organized labor movements.

Scabs are union-breakers, pure and simple. Their willingness to work more for less damages the ability of all workers (including scabs) to earn a living wage. The greatest irony is that in their shortsighted attempts at personal gain these spineless leeches are working against their own self-interest. Like his namesake, the scab is a transitory, odious thing temporarily covering the bloody corporate greed that causes labor disputes. Like a physical scab, the labor scab will be sloughed off once the body to which it is attached heals.

It truly astounds me that people are ready to cast their sympathies alongside the wealthy CEOs who could give a fig's ass about them, proffering the cheap rationale that Hollywood writers are already overpaid. As if Les Moonves is just a poor working schmuck barely making ends meet!

Complicit in your own oppression much?

Becs said...

Why do you think you'll get brought back once the strike is over?

I understand you want to negotiate about new media, but you won't get a lot of sympathy from me.

What you get paid in a year could pay off my house and my car loans - and trust me, we aren't talking LA or NYC here.

If I could scab, baby, I would.

(No, I am not a studio troll. And I gave up watching television two years ago because it all stank.)(Uh...except for 'House'.)

JD said...

Forgive me for being ignorant here, but why are more writers not taking their own stuff to the Internet on their own? I get that these studios have the money to make the big films, but they were just struggling once too. Why not start small and produce some of your own. I think that with the new media, the big studios days are numbered anyway. Make what you can off of them while you can, but keep in mind that everyone who wants the chance can get their stuff seen now via the net.

Anonymous said...

"Or, they are greatfull to some people who helped them out when the need is greatest and you are writing propaganda?"

When the need is greatest? Which side? The writers (the vast majority of whom do not make enough money to actually get a mortgage), or the networks and parent companies (who generally pay their executives in cheques/checks that have over 6 zeros at the end)?

Oh yes. The need is great.

Upset about being called a scab? Don't be one. Problem solved.

To the comment about the WGA not providing a necessary service....What the hell do YOU think writers on television shows do, hmm? I'd like to see Redstone pen an episode of 24. See how well that goes.

A lot of comments seem to show the general lack of understanding about the actual issue, and are more reactionary comments to the fact that there is a union involved. Good Lord, get a clue.

To those commenters who are churning out "There is only crap on tv so you should be blamed for that and that is why I don't support the WGA" lines, please remember that a network dictates the direction of a show in order to satisfy what they believe the vast unwashed (let us call them Joe Average TV Viewer) wants to see. Don't like the tv shows? Don't watch them. Pick up some responsibility for what you see and hear. If the networks didn't think people would watch, shows would get pulled (good and bad alike).

And to address the comments of people who are saying that scabs are merely filling paid positions available to them...and that is all "okay"....please. It is not a secret that in order to get those jobs to begin with, one has to belong to the organization that represents the interests and ideals of the majority. If you take a position that is normally filled by a union member, it should be understood that your job is temporary. Because when all is said and done, that job is already filled by someone else. Someone else who is coming back to said position. And you've just left yourself in a very uncomfortable position. If you are a union member, there is a very good chance that you could have your card pulled when there is time to deal with anything but negotiations. Employers won't want you around their union employees because you will cause strife. You. Not them. You. Your presence will be a constant reminder to everyone that "very bad things" happened. You can be replaced.

The union won't break. Hollywood, by and large, is a union town. And for good reason. If the networks are willing to let the industry shut down over 4 cents and internet residuals....imagine what they would be doing if there wasn't a large body to aid each and every person working for them.

- Angel (not a writer, not working in the entertainment industry whatsoever, merely a member of TVU....but I shower)

Moclips said...

Well, for those whose self-righteous indignation can't reflect enough of itself, I walked your lines. I was treated lower than dirt because I wasn't working. After a cursory oh, hi every morning, I wasn't even given the courtesy of a conversation or notice for the next four hours every day. I was told when I joined the WGA -- and I wanted to --that 'we're not responsible for getting writers employment, we're a GUILD not a UNION. Fine. You want me to treat you like a union when YOU want something and like a GUILD when I want something. As far as I'm concerned ANYONE who crossed is tired of what I'm tired of-- a handful of elitist snobs who don't give a damn about writers. They are so concerned someone might not be important enough for them they kick you out of the union if you don't work for a few years. They take your money, they demand your loyalty and give WHAT in return? Credits fights are lost to the writers with the most clout in the union or the most pull with the studios and as far as daytime -- EVEYRONE got 3.5% raises EXCEPT daytime writers. Typical. We're not good enough to speak to on the picket lines, we're not good enough to worry about whether we're employed, but we're good enough to pay dues every week, but we're NOT worth bothering about getting the same raise everyone else does. When the oh-so-marvelous nightime writers can turn out fifty scripts a year for PEANUTS and not go insane with no time off, no support and nothing but TAKING from their union -- they can treat us like the dirt under their shoes. Until then, they can keep their elitist mouths off those who crossed. They don't live the same lives as the ones who build big buildings and have fancy awards parties for themselves. They're hired help and treated like crap. The union feeds off them and gives NOTHING back.