We did it. We accomplished the impossible. We got the AMPTP back to the table and finally received a counter-proposal to the one we made them so many months ago. The deal they made with the DGA is the first true sign of negotiation they’ve shown since we started asking them to do so back in July.
While we have been solidly and steadily holding the line, the AMPTP has been trying to wait us out, wear us down. But they blinked first. They desperately need a deal or else their corporate bottom lines are going to start plummeting. No new TV. No new movies. What will feed their strategically planned, very expensive pipeline?
I certainly know the realities facing everyone who works in this town. We all have our own private bottom lines. Every night in bed I lay calculating how long I can last before my family’s stock hits rock bottom. But then I realize that the CEO’s are doing the same thing, not worrying about their own families of course, because of the massive personal wealth they have amassed, but worrying about their corporation’s losses. And wondering what their shareholders will do to them if they tank their own golden gooses (not to be confused with tanking the Golden Globes, which really worked out well for them, huh?) And that lets me sleep another night, knowing for once we’ve evened the playing field with these guys, just for a moment in time.
But it ain’t over yet, folks.
As a writer said to me yesterday, we’re at the end of Act Two now. (Or the end of Act Forty-Seven if you work in TV nowadays.) The external force has hit the immovable object. Substitute you’re favorite genre scenario: asteroid/earth, playboy/virgin, Mr. Smith/Washington. The entity that vowed never to give an inch has become open to change. So now it’s time to move toward a resolution.
In our case that means the start of strong bargaining. We must use the strength and the tools we have gathered up until now to reach the goals we set for ourselves in Act One. A fair deal in New Media. Nothing more, nothing less. Now it’s all about the definition of fair. The DGA and the AMPTP have given us one definition, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one for us. Would any of us have our protagonists settle for less than what they knew was right when there was still a whole act left to be written?
It’s often said that negotiations are won or lost in the final stretch. Now is when we need to find the inner strength to go the distance. We’re all tired. And worried. And broke. But every member of the WGA owes it to themselves and to our leaders who will be going back to that negotiation table to see this through.
Personally, that means I’m putting myself back into the mind-set I was in those first few weeks of November, when I was younger and stronger. When I realized that most of the world was honking for me because I stood up to the immovable object and asked it to consider a change. And I’ll never let myself forget that my own actions really accomplished something.
The last act is always the toughest, but hopefully, also the shortest.
This was contributed by Thania St. John, WGA member since 1988.
That, my friends, is a great victory. And it was slowly but surely (and sometimes painfully) won by every step that each one of us took outside our studio gates for the past 11 weeks.