12/02/2007

"What We Have Here Is a Failure to Negotiate"

(With all the best to Frank Pierson and thanks to Jon Avnet)

The latest AMPTP offer, Thursday's "groundbreaking" proposal, certainly wasn't what any of us hoped for. If we assume the AMPTP sincerely wants to end the strike, then everything they've done so far is counter-intuitive. Given the stakes, their behavior is crazy-making. Most members were shocked and demoralized that the offer was so inappropriate.

But when has anyone enjoyed a negotiation?

Personally, I hate negotiating. At first it feels good when I'm thinking about what I want. My mind's racing with the possibilities. But when the process starts and the first counter-offer comes in, I go through the seven stages of grief. If I want a deal that I can live with, I have to tough it out.

Of course the companies are trying to get the cheapest deal they can. Of course they're trying to humiliate us so we'll lose our will and accept their low-ball offer. Of course they'll use everything in their PR arsenal to encircle us with unflattering press.

That's the business of business. We have to take the process in stride.

Not to get all-motivational about it, but both sides are playing for big stakes. We are fighting for the future. That's how they see it too. To get what we want, we have to be determined.

Just like any negotiation, nobody is going to fight our fight for us.

We've got to take care of ourselves.

Going back to the picket line is our opportunity to show the AMPTP that we're in the game. They volleyed, now we'll return.

The AMPTP wants to demoralize the membership with school yard psychological warfare. They want to isolate us and drive us back to our rooms.

The picket line is the antidote to all their manipulation.

With the picket line, we show the corporations that we're not cowed. The picket line is the visible symbol of the membership's determination. The picket line is where we get recharged by walking with other writers and our supporters.

We have strength in numbers. Let's use them.

37 comments:

Jake Hollywood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Local44united said...

I know for a fact that there are still writers out there writing for shows.
Just because you take your name off of the script, doesn't mean you didn't write it.

How can the WGA continuously try to rally the support of the IA, when they don't even have the full support of their own membership?

roadrash said...

You would be surprised just how scripted (no pun intended) managment negotiating tactics are. They are playing The Shell Game. But you all know that.

They know their original "New Media" position is an untenable PR disaster, so they try some takeaways that are less obvious.

At least they respected your power enough not to pull The Bait and Switch.

If they thought they could crush you, they would string your negotiators along with promising proposals until the deadline and then throw down an offensive piece of crap expecting collapse. But the AMPTP knew you had some backbone.

Part of their game this time I think is to forstall any talk of boycotts during the Black Friday shopping crunch.

Hang in there and hang together. It is the only way to win.

embers said...

It was disheartening to have AMPTP come back with such an insulting offer, I had gotten my hopes up that the strike would be over by Christmas.

But you do NOT stand alone! The fans are with you. We will write to every paper that prints the misinformation the AMPTP puts out, we will come down to picket, we will buy pencils, we will do anything we can think of to tell you, the networks, and everyone that the viewers stand with the writers! The shows we love do NOT come from the studios, they come from the writers.

Frankie Harrold said...

Why are so few writers using their real names when they post. Are they all of a sudden afraid of their words?

Jake Hollywood said...

I've said it over and over again, that even though I'm not a WGA member, as a writer (though I'm just a lowly independent filmmaker) I'm offended by the so-called negotiation tactics of the AMPTP.

I've been on the picket line (and I know a couple of WGA writers who have not only been AWOL from the strike line, but have also been writing--and in at least one or two cases casting their film scripts--attempting to get their scripts sold) everyday since day one because I believe in a fair deal for the WGA writers.

I'm not altruistic. I just know a good contract will be good for every writer. And who knows, maybe one of these days I'll join the WGA and benefit from the sacrifices the WGA is making. And when and if I do join the union, I can do so with the knowledge that I stood with them when it counted.

I just wish every WGA writer would do the same.

brazilian girls said...

I still just don't understand how the WGA can negotiate so badly.

Did none of them go to college? Did none of them, while in college, sleep with students who eventually went on to become lawyers and P.R. professionals?

The way they are handling this is so hackish, and well, amateur.

I'll let you in one little tidbit - take and make the momentum. Heck I learned that when I learned chess at age 7.

Don't have the AMPTP offer something and you decline. That's just bad P.R. no matter how you slice it, I don't care what the details and terms are.

DO offer something to the AMPTP, media blitz the shit out that offer (and you totally can, most every news writer in the nation is behind you) - and then have THEM decline.

You will now be setting the tempo.

Tempo.

Remember that word.

/ end of free Lesson #1

Anonymous said...

"Did none of them go to college? Did none of them, while in college, sleep with students who eventually went on to become lawyers and P.R. professionals?

Hilarious!!!

Silly! said...

LOL!!!! The AMPTP is such a bunch of losers!

Do they really think anybody doesn't see through their crap?

What's hilarious is that Nick Counter is probably sitting at home right thinking he's done a great job.

from today's LA Times said...

According to estimates cited in The Times ("Many shows could take weeks to roll after the walkout ends," Nov. 28), the current writers strike -- if it ran 22 weeks (a very big "if") -- could cost $380 million to $1 billion.

The same story notes that the annual gross product of Los Angeles County is about $442 billion, or $187 billion for 22 weeks.

So let's do some long division. The strike, even if very prolonged, would amount to a cost of somewhere between 0.2% and 0.5% of local economic activity.

Bottom line: If you want to panic about the Los Angeles economy, worry about the real estate bust, the shaky stock market or the falling dollar. The strike may be high local drama, but it is of low economic significance.

Daniel J.B. Mitchell

UCLA professor of management and public policy

Troll said...

Did you all hear about the super secret showrunner meeting tomorrow? Tick Tock!

Anonymous said...

"With the picket line, we show the corporations that we're not cowed. The picket line is the visible symbol of the membership's determination."

Your Union's picketing efforts have been getting weaker and weaker by the day. Last week, when I drove thru my studio gate there was a whopping 4 people outside (this was down from the 10 or so earlier in the week).

And now you are down to 12 hours a week??? Pathetic. It's pretty evident who is going to win this strike.

Anonymous said...

Twelve hours a week? Say it isn't so, writers! That's fewer hours than we work each day. Get moving writers!!! Fight harder so we can all go back to work. You aren't supposed to be writing, so you should have plenty of time!

Anonymous said...

they went from 20 down to 12...and on Friday it was raining so you know how many picketers I saw as I passed both Universal, Warner Bros and NBC.

Zero.

So fight for what you deserve WGA!! (as long as it's not raining or more than 3 hours a day).

Anonymous said...

Writers! You'd better stop being lazy. We want our jobs back. So go and fight hard to get your deal. You wanted to strike. Strike dammit, strike!

LAME WGA said...

While I support the writers 100%, this strike has been poorly led.
20 picketing hours down to 12. Seriously - what is the point of picketing? It's become a joke! Nice statement the WGA is making about resolve.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of things that are poor about how this strike has been conducted. WTF are you guys doing for all of the other hours of the day. What do you have to do that is more important than this. How about you sign your residual checks over to the rest of us and we'll stand on the goddamn line for you.

jobless crafty said...

I second what "lame wga" said. As a now unemployed craft service guy I feel that writers should be putting in 40 hours a week, which usually represents about just over 3 days of my typical work week when I was working.

Philo T. Farnsworth said...

Indeed, roadrash.

It's the talk of the Guild (I count 58 e-mails so far today only) how the companies blew this one so badly. Their current strategy of blaming the WGA leadership is screwed because they themselves failed to look like they were trying seriously.

It might have worked too, if they were just a little smarter! Okay, a lot smarter. Strategically, there's plenty of room to offer us a bad deal that at least looked realistic. But for some reason they went with this offer that everybody knows is bull. So now their attempts to shift blame to the WGA are laughable. No one is buying it. I mean seriously, no one.

So yes, it's surprising how clumsily they've handled this. But I guess it answers any questions about how they regard writers. They think we're stupid to the point of insanity!

wow said...

Is it also the talk of the guild to, after talk about how badly the AMPTP blew it, to really show the AMPTP and lessen the strike hours to 12 hours/week?

I am a production accountant, and have to say, WHAT IS THE WGA LEADERSHIP THINKING? I'm sorry writers but as a union, you guys look ridiculous. This isn't a strike for you guys. It's a non-paid vacation!

You guys have no solidarity considering showrunners are back at work, and most of you don't commit to striking to the point picketing is now 3 days a week. PATHETIC.

Anonymous said...

WRITERS STAY STRONG!

Anonymous said...

"I am a production accountant"

Let me be clear about this...I think that the writers deserve a fair deal.

That being said, I'm an accountant too and I really wonder if these WGA people have ever had a finance class in their lives. Do they know anything at all about the time value of money. If they did then they wouldn't pretend that the >$30.000 plus interest that my family will lose (if this goes on for 6 months like the last one)will be somehow returned to me when we don't get screwed as badly later. Don't get me wrong. I think they'll try to screw us, I just don't think it'll ever add up to the screwing we are getting here and now.

Philo T. Farnsworth said...

Dear wow,

Picketing is 4 days a week plus Fridays are reserved for rallies. So we're actuallly still out there 5 days. Also we've been supporting other unions. Tomorrow in addition to my usual shift, I'm going to the SEIU rally in Century City.

I feel like you and I probably don't have all that many differences. I've written for shows, I've run a show, and I can't remember a production accountant that I have not gotten along with really well. In addition, I feel like the Internet is generally a horrible place to actually discuss anything.

Why don't you come out for a half hour and walk the line with me? I think you'll find it kind of eye-opening. If that's not an idea that appeals to you, maybe sometime after?

If you want to do it, I'll wear something that will let you know it's me. I won't ask you to reveal your identity here.

But I'd love to talk this out rather than let this message board crap rule the day.

Let me know. I'll check back here tonight and tomorrow. I am totally serious and not being snide.

Anonymous said...

the WGA has no idea what they are doing. This is fact. I have many friends picketing every day, and the problem with them is that they're all rich, and are not as threatened financially as my below the line friends, who make far less than writers do.

The lowest paid working writer on a show makes 6 figures. This is fact. The WGA tries to spin it so that lower level writers don't make a lot of money, but they do. The reason the WGA does this is to try to create the perception that the writers are in some way "blue collar."

I feel for all you BTL workers who are taking out loans to try to sustain this and are looking for other work.

wow said...

Hey Philo T.,
you know what would be funny? If it turned out we knew each other. Fact is, two of my closest friends on the show I work on are writers, and I have picketed many days with them. The fact of the matter is this:

Films are continuing to be shot. The film community isn't affected by the strike at all really. I am fortunate to go work on one starting in two weeks.

TV episodes on a handful of shows are still being shot, and showrunners are going back to work to make sure that episodes 11, 12 and 13 are in good shape.

SAG actors show up during their lunch break and shout "solidarity" but you and I know that they do nothing to help this strike end. You and I both know that the strike would end if EVERY writer did what Steve Carrell did.

The reality is - in order for this strike to work, they would need to bring the town to a complete halt. But the town has only slowed down a little bit.

Our BTL friends are without jobs, and I feel for them WAY more than I feel for writers, and quite frankly, I don't get the sense that the writers really care for the BTL workers. It's a shame considering just how much they do for the shows.

I blame the WGA leaders for handling this poorly.

brazilian girls said...

the WGA has no idea what they are doing. This is fact. I have many friends picketing every day, and the problem with them is that they're all rich, and are not as threatened financially as my below the line friends, who make far less than writers do.

The lowest paid working writer on a show makes 6 figures. This is fact. The WGA tries to spin it so that lower level writers don't make a lot of money, but they do.


How myopic.

You think every WGA striking writer writes for TV?

Oh, please, how laughable.

This is like saying that all writers sell hundreds of thousands of books, or that all hurricanes develop into broken levees, or that all gay men have 2 sparkling silver gowns, 32 pairs of stilettos, and 12 Mommy Dearest wigs carefully and lovingly placed in length order in their huge walk-in closet.

You would be horrible in inferential statistics. Please don't go into the social sciences.

Philo T. Farnsworth said...

Dear wow,

So do you want to picket with me?

Anonymous said...

Hey Brazilian Girls,
you know nothing.
Go to wga.org and read through their schedule of minimums. You'll see just how much writers make.

If you lived in LA instead of Portland, you would know what's really going on.

Philo T. Farnsworth said...

p.s. I'm going to bed and will check back tomorrow

Anonymous said...

stop stalking wow Philo!

clh said...

tip to trolls: don't write one post after another post, minutes apart, sounding exactly alike, using the same sentence patterns, and think we're feeling a random tsunami of criticism about the strikers. i'm a civilian on the west coast, merely a fan & a union supporter, and i'm happy you trolls are here. it's hard proof that the AMPTP has to BUY their "support" since they can't get it any other way, and it's hard proof they know what they're lacking. in the meanwhile, the writers EARN their support. a lot like life, that. spam on, little trolls.

URLame said...

Nice try clh. It's obvious that you are a troll. A tool of the industry sent here to make writers seem really, really stupid and make other workers hate them. Give up! The writers will fight on despite your evil ways.

clh said...

at least you take instruction well, urlametroll. and there should be a comma between "try" and "clh" . . . i probably should have mentioned i'm an editor. you show promise. for ad copy.

David said...

I'm not a writer, I do web design. But I support you guys and I think what you're asking for is fair and I've walked the picket 2x already. None of my family is in a union, but we do know our history. Keep it up, ignore the negative mind games and keep going! I'll try and come by again this week.

creepy philo t... said...

seriously philo - you must have a preference for production accountants.
go to the singles picket and find you a woman!

Philo T. Farnsworth said...

Dear Wow: I enjoy movies, TV, and long walks in front of Fox Studios. I am married with kids, so romance is "off the table" (that's a negotiating term). But I'm putting myself out there, don't AMPTP me! (that means you wait four days to answer, then crush my hopes.)

How's this B*%tch? said...

"there should be a comma between "try" and "clh" . . . i probably should have mentioned i'm an editor"

Good catch! If the editing doesn't work out, maybe you could teach English. C'mon, you gotta have something better than that in your arsenal. Patrolling punctuation errors can't really be all that satisfying. Maybe you could read for content instead.

Now, back to more important issues like getting people back to work!