This is the first of what we hope will be a number of "calls to action."
As of last week, the AMPTP retained the powerhouse "crisis management" firm of Fabiani and Lehane (known in political circles as "the Masters of Disaster." )They also have "a reputation for hardball tactics in damage control and inflicting damage on opponents."
This firm has built a reputation and a substantial income largely from Democratic, progressive political causes. A short list of their past employers includes Al Gore, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore/Miramax (for Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko), and my personal favorite, the Screen Actors Guild. Founding partner Chris Lehane is currently a consultant for the Californians for Fair Election Reform, a major Democratic group, among other things.
My DC lobbyist friends tell me that for emergency “crisis management,” firms like Fabiani & Lehane charge as much as $100,000 dollars a month. But the AMPTP is also paying Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican-leaning PR guru. He could easily cost another $100,000 a month.
My concern is this: no one hires crisis management firms at such huge expense if they’re planning on making a fair deal. A fair deal doesn't require hundreds of thousands of dollars of spin to sell. A fair deal is its own good PR.
The WGA hasn’t hired a huge PR firm. We don’t want to “spin” anyone. United Hollywood is an all-volunteer blog, and our PR strategy is simple: we tell the truth.
The truth is, we’re fighting for the future for all working people in Hollywood.
The truth is, new media coverage and internet residuals are vital to the income of writers, directors and actors.
The truth is, the below-the-line unions rely on residuals to fund over half of their pension and health plans, and their rate is tied directly to ours. If we lose, their P&H will likely be decimated.
The truth is, if we don’t get coverage for new media productions, the below the line unions won’t get it either. If we lose, they lose.
This strike is a disaster for the working men and women of California, and many other regions that rely on the entertainment industry for jobs. We didn’t want this strike. And the AMPTP could stop it tomorrow because our proposals are affordable and reasonable.
But instead of making a fair deal with us, they hire Fabiani & Lehane. The proposal gets a snazzy new name, the CEO's take out new ads and tell everyone how great their proposal is. Except that then, they don't give it to us. Remember the second half of the proposal they said we'd have on Tuesday? We still haven’t gotten it. Hard to negotiate without the offer. And it's becoming clear they don't intend to give it to us -- one theory being that they're stalling, looking for an opportunity to walk out of the talks and blame the WGA leadership for it.
It's time for the CEO's to stop playing PR games and get a deal done.
When Fabiani & Lehane worked for SAG in 2002, Lehane said at the time:
“... we believe strongly in the need to preserve the strength of the union and this agreement does that. We both come from liberal, progressive backgrounds, and this union represents working people."
For the record, so does the WGA, which is why SAG is our ally. And yet, right now Chris Lehane is helping the conglomerates try to divide this union internally and orchestrate ways to get us to question our leadership.
In other words, Chris Lehane is union busting.
And since Lehane and his firm have made their fortune – and continue to make it – off of Democratic Party connections and progressive causes, I think the hypocrisy here is pretty appalling.
Below is the contact info for the three frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination. Hillary Clinton, who says she supports the writers in this strike, has worked extensively with Fabiani & Lehane. Barack Obama and John Edwards also support the strike, and they work with many of the organizations that Fabiani & Lehane rely on for their business.
Call these 3 candidates, and politely ask them to promise to hold Fabiani & Lehane accountable for what they are doing.
Tell Clinton, Edwards and Obama this:
"As long as Fabiani & Lehane are in the business of union-busting, we want your personal assurance that they will not be in the business of working with Democratic organizations, businesses, politicians or candidates.
A strike is not a business opportunity to make a profit by harming the interests of working men and women."
Hillary Clinton (213) 908-0190 firstname.lastname@example.org
John Edwards (919) 636-3131 email@example.com
Barack Obama (866) 675-2008
The AMPTP likes to say that this is all about business. Well, the business of hypocrisy shouldn’t pay.
CEO's: end the strike. Make a fair deal.