Teamster Member Breaks Down The AMPTP Proposal: A Kid's Book Makes More Sense

(We want to welcome Teamster Member John Jabaley as a regular contributor to United Hollywood, and we hope to continue to add voices and perspectives from all unions.)

Last night was a literary evening at my house. After "Go, Dog, Go!" and "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" we continued the Ingalls' family saga with a chapter of "Little Town on the Prairie." After my kids fell asleep I settled down to look at the AMPTP's latest proposal to the WGA.

I really should have stuck with P.D. Eastman & Dr. Seuss. A big dog party up there in the tree is something I can believe in. But $250.00 in residuals? For a whole year? Really?

I couldn't resist grabbing a paper towel and pen to try and figure out what this proposal means for those of us below the line.

In 2006 the AMPTP member companies contributed $339,000,000 in residuals to our P&H funds and made another $277,000,000 in direct contributions. That's a total employer contribution of $616,000,000.00 We employees contributed $0.00, and there was a surplus when it was all said and done.

Now the AMPTP is proposing to give writers a residual payment of $250.00 for an entire year of streaming reruns instead of the TV standard of $20,000.00 for the first rerun. What does that have to do with us? In terms of Dr. Seuss, is it a big fish or a little fish? It turns out it's almost all the fish. There are shows that already have no network rerun ("Lost" and "24" for example). They only stream on the Internet. Not only do the writers get nothing, our pension and health funds get nothing.
So what will this mean? I estimate $250.00 dollars to be one eightieth of $20,000.00. Now of course our P&H funds get several times 20,000.00, but the ratio of one eightieth is the one the AMPTP is offering, so that's what we're looking at. And one eightieth of $339,000,000.00 is $4,237,500.00. For the sake of my paper towel I have to assume all residuals payments to the plan are from content made for television. I also have to do that because the AMPTP is offering $0.00 for theatrical content streamed on the internet.

My paper towel got a little messy around here, as it's been a while since I've done long division and I frankly got a little fascinated by all the zeroes. But I wanted to know the worst case scenario, the one my kids will face if they disregard my advice and go into the industry. The one I will face before I retire. The one guys with 25 years and 48,000 hours will face when they're 72 and have their hip go out a 2nd time.

So here's where I ended up once I added the direct contributions and the reduced residual payments: $281,237,500.00. That's a lot less than $616,000,000.00 In fact, it's a shortfall of $8,000.00 for each and every one of the roughly 42,000 members of the health plan. I don't know how long it will be until all content is delivered over the internet vs. broadcast, but with savings like that I bet the process is going to speed up pretty quickly.

Now admittedly these are very rough numbers- Of course there will still be DVD sales and, if the companies get their way, downloads at the DVD rate, and we'll continue to get a few pennies for airplane and hotel movies. There will still be reruns on the airwaves, but they will become a smaller and smaller piece of the pie. People will still watch things on their TV screens, but those screens will be fed through the Internet.

The numbers paint a pretty bleak picture for the future of our pension and health funds. Retirees can pretty much kiss 13th and 14th checks goodbye, and we'll all be looking at large increases in deductibles, co-pays and yet unheard of ways to pay more for healthcare.

On a brighter note, Laura Ingalls and her family finally managed to raise enough money to send her sister Mary to a college for the blind. Of course scarlet fever wouldn't have made her blind if she'd had healthcare. But I digress.

John Jabaley
Location Manager
IBT Local 399


Anonymous said...

You're a clever guy. I liked your piece. I think that you are correct that these guys will squeeze us in any way that they can.I really want us to stick together.

So what can we do to save the homes, college funds and retirement accounts of those of us in the crafts who do not have emergency strike funds and residuals at our disposal. This threat is real...not just some rhetoric. We're talking about the Sheriff coming to the door to forcibly put people and their belongings on the street outside of the homes that they may have been paying on for 15 years. What can be done to offer some emergency assistance to these people. People who can prove that they really are in dire straits.

Anonymous said...

Give Jabalay a writing contract when this is all over and done with. The guy's got chops.

Anonymous said...

For those in need, a union solidarity fund that has been established at the MPTF.

Anonymous said...

I'm told by someone involved in the negotiations that it's a misconception that the AMPTP's proposed $250 flat fee applies to television episodes that are streamed online. It applies to original made-for-web content. The offer on the table for residuals for streamed TV shows is still a free window (around six weeks) and then a revenue percentage (around 1%). The email the WGA sent out was, apparently, misleading on this point.

You are a liar. said...

Dear "anonymous" person with "inside" information about the $250: Your information is worthless because you are not using your name and posting something on a message board - no, make the two so far - that cannot in any way be substantiated.

How is the PR job? I can tell you that you are not very good at it. Tell the AMPTP is said hi.

Someone else entirely! said...

"Your information is worthless because you are not using your name and posting something on a message board"

So, does this mean that "you are a liar" is your real name? Would you really expect someone to paste thier real name online in this age of psychopaths?

Anonymous said...

Dear You Are A Liar,

I am the Anonymous you responded to. My name is James Taylor, and I'm a video editor for television promos. You can believe me or not believe me, but there's no reason to be a hostile jerk. And if you don't believe me because you can't source me (even though I just gave you my name), that's fine by me, but then I would apply that same standard to everything else you read online. I wanted to be helpful because I have a lot of WGA friends (including the one who told me this), and they've all been freaking out today, unecessarily. The fact that this $250 thing has been mis-represented doesn't mean that there aren't still serious differences between the two sides and that negotiations won't drag on for a bit.

You probably still just think I am an inept shill (especially because I happen to have a fairly generic name)-- all I can say is I hope you enjoy your paranoia.

Anonymous said...

"For those in need, a union solidarity fund that has been established at the MPTF."

Yes, but only for WGAw members and DGA DGPTP members.

Captain Obvious said...

Actually, Anonymous @ 3:53 PM, the offer on the table for TV yadda is $0 forever.

...because the Alliance will just call everything "promotional" and viola! With or without the 6 weeks.

We can't be having that...

errrm said...

No offense to all your writers in here, but this outside look was great. No industry terms or muddy hypotheses.

I know this blog wasn't initially set up to just inform the viewers, but as you can tell from the comments sections alone, we get a lot of your side from this site.

Having someone not involved so eloquently state why this offer is such a raw deal goes a long way towards keeping un on your side. It's almost as if this Teamster is your own "Consumer Reports."

Thanks so much for including this on your blog.

Evan Waters said...

Anon at 6:11

Where does it say the MPTF fund is only for those people? The WGA and DGA have set up exclusive funds, but that's not the entirety of the MPTF.

Anonymous said...

No way a teamster wrote this. I've been on sets before and teamsters could barely put two words together. I know, maybe that seventh grader wrote this. Yeah, that's it.

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

I know a teamster who is a retired NASA engineer! He is also an entreprenuer and an inventor. He likes the business and he doesn't know how to sit still and do nothing, so he started a second career. A comment like this doesn't make teamsters look ignorant, it just makes you look ignorant.

Nomiki said...

I'm an actor moving to LA in January. If SAG decides to strike, could this be an opportunity or be detrimental for actors trying to get into SAG. I see it as a tricky situation.

Any thoughts?