2/07/2008

Answering Questions About the WGA Constitution

We've been hearing a lot of procedural questions in the last few days, so in an act of serious selflessness, we decided to do a little paging through the WGA Constitution so you don't have to.

Here are the questions we've been hearing most:

Can the Board lift the restraining order (meaning the strike) without a general vote of the membership?

Yes. In Article IX, Section 3b, it states that the restraining order has to be authorized by the membership to start, but that it remains "in effect until withdrawn by the Board."

The Board has the constitutional right to lift the restraining order at their discretion.

That doesn't mean they will, by the way, and no one should interpret this information to mean that the Saturday meeting will automatically result in the strike being lifted if the Board meets, as they are rumored to be doing, on Sunday.

How long does it take to have a ratification vote?

The Constitution provides for three timelines in Article VII, Section 2b:

20 days' notice to members, 10 days' notice, or 48 hours.

The 48 hour option is reserved for meetings dealing with restraining orders [i.e. strikes] or the "membership being called to discuss and take action on related matters." Like, for example, the ratification of a contract that directly impacts the restraining order.

Does that mean that the 48 hours will start at the Saturday meeting, and we'll have to cast a vote by Monday?

No. Because of the notification requirements in the Constitution (same section) the 48 hours couldn't begin before Monday at the earliest. (Or that's how we read it.)

Could the Board lift the strike order sooner, and we could still have a 10-day or 20-day ratification vote?

That is possible under the Constitution. But again, the Board has repeatedly guaranteed that nothing will happen without the input (and approval) of the membership. They are planning to get that input at the Saturday meeting.

When will we have the deal points to see for ourselves?

The current rumor is that the companies have promised to finish the contract draft language on the deal points by Friday, so that the deal summary can be released to membership.

If the companies don't do that, then obviously we won't be able to evaluate the deal points before the Saturday meeting -- remember, any deal points not yet put in contract language are not final. They could be changed, to our disadvantage, in contract if we don't get them nailed down now.

We at UH hope that the companies will live up to what they've promised, so the membership can see the deal points and evaluate them for ourselves in a timely manner.

What does this mean in relation to the Saturday meeting?

Well, it's not a Constitutional question, but here's the answer: EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE THERE.

We're going to be briefed on the negotiation as it stands. Hopefully, the contract language will be finished, which means there will be some finality to the deal points that are presented to us. We'll get to hear what's going on -- and we'll have the right to decide what happens next.

We all want to get answers, so we can make the best decision possible on whatever deal terms are put forward to us. And the Saturday meeting is the place to get those answers.

The Board will be there, and they'll listen to what we say, because that's their job. The only way our voices might not be heard -- is if we don't show up.

19 comments:

Caitlin said...

Thank you for this. I'm praying for a deal- not that you will take any deal, but that, despite pessimism, this will be a deal you can take with at least satisfaction and get everyone's lives back on track.

Four Cent said...

To all those people hell bent on shouting down this so-called 'shitty deal' that you haven't even seen yet, please try to calm down before Saturday. We're adults engaged in a negotiation. To all those people not hell bent on shouting this down, who have supported this strike from the beginning but are actually hopeful that it's a good one - BE THERE SATURDAY. It is crucial that all sides are heard, not just the ranters already crafting their passionate/smart/inflammatory speeches (with gaps left for fevered applause from those around them). Speculation and gossip about the details of the deal coming from Variety, The New York Times and Nikki Finke, NONE of whom have our best interests at heart (which goes for Ms Finke as much as the others). Let's hear what our leadership have to say, yeah?

4merBTLer said...

There's been alot of "frenzy-whipping" in the Comments Sections of the various blogs, and I would hope that WGA members keep in mind that all of those posts, positive or negative, could have been written by ANYBODY. You don't know for sure who any of us actually is, and our commentary cannot be assumed to all be genuine.

YOU, the card-carrying members of the WGA, MUST show up on Saturday, so the NegComm, Council and Board can truly take the temperature of the membership on an offering that has yet to be seen and therefore cannot be judged at this time.

I believe that the hard-line "Strike for as long as it takes to get the right deal!!!", is the correct public stance to take, simply because if the AMPTP can be made to believe that your breaking point is farther in the future than theirs, they will be inclined to settle this Labor Action faster than they would if they thought they could wait you out. And I have no doubt that you want this strike to end ASAP. I surely do.

Stand together, persevere and get a Fair Deal.

As part of the "Collateral Damage", I would like to come out of this believing that my sacrifice has been worthwhile. Yep, I have an agenda too.

maynotlast said...

Don't listen to Four Cent!! If they had an opinion worth anything they'd be called "EIGHT cent," or "Change-for-a-Quarter!" Strike Forever! Deal Never! When we raged "support the Negotiating Committee!!" the spittle flecking our chapped, radical lips, we didn't think they'd actually negotiate a deal!! Betrayal!!!

quint said...

maynotlast - funniest comment yet!

I just hope the radical hardliners posting these real "strike forever" messages don't cause the WGA to lose the support they quickly and easily won in the court of public opinion.

Geo Rule said...

I remember reading on this site at some point that the original strike vote was something like 90-10 in favor. My hope for Saturday is that whatever the sentiment of the members that it be expressed in similar solidarity type of numbers.

55-45 in either direction would be a real shame on a lot of different levels.

ildirector said...

While I look forward to a favorable deal memo this Friday, and hope for a swift resolution to the strike, I am prepared to stay on strike for months longer if I need to. This is the time to be strong.

Michael said...

Dear WGA Members,

I am an AMPTP shill who has been paid to post on this and other blogs. We all work for hourly wages without overtime or health care. So I've been trying to organize my colleagues and sign NLRB union cards.

Our issues are your issues. In fact, the AMPTP is re-using comments I write on this blog on other sites, and I get no new media residuals. And separated rights? Forget about it. Disney is already developing a musical called 'BTL And Homeless' based on one of my posts, and I'm not seeing a penny.

Anyway, we shills are probably going to stage a walkout, and I hope the WGA (and SAG of course) will sympathy strike against our common employer/exploiter, the AMPTP. Or, better yet, just stay on strike for a while so that our labor action actually has some teeth.

Remember, we are all in this together.

4merBTLer said...

Quint,

The "Court of Public Opinion" is much larger than the numbers racked up as "Collateral Damage". Even if everyone directly affected by this Labor Action turned against the WGA (and not all will), people all over the world who have become active supporters, thanks to this new-fangled internet thingy, very likely won't, because it's easier to support a just cause when you're not getting injured in the fight.

Jake Hollywood said...

four cent

If you were at a strike location (as I was) yesterday--Thursday--then you would have had some of the proposed deal explained to you, that is, if the person speaking at your location played straight with you...

Things like the 17 day "promo" window are part of the deal, as is the $1200 payment, and a possible percentage only enters the deal in the third yer of the contract.

The AMPTP still maintains that they don't know how to make money from the internet, this despite that ad rates jumped 78% from last year and that the networks are already forging plans to take advantage of new media. Surely ad rates will also rise as more and more current Tv programs are streamed.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to understand that, at least this part anyway, is a bad deal.

And other parts of the proposed deal to be explained saturday are equally murky. There's some good in the offer, but overall the "deal" still stinks.

So, when you say, "yeah," I'll be screaming, "NO!" as loudly as I can. And there'll be others just like me expressing the same word with the same amount of force and vigor. Rightfully so, too.

Julie said...

I'm a little confused about the 48 hour issue. Does that mean that after the Saturday meeting writers could be back at their offices as early as Monday?

Caitlin said...

Jake Hollywood and others, you have not seen the deal. I doubt your strike captains have seen the deal, seeing as it isn't finished. I'm not saying they're liars. I'm just saying that planning on going into a meeting and screaming "NO!" at the top of the lungs before you've seen anything else is just as presumtuous and uninformed as jumping to approve any deal that is put in front of you. Until the deal is in front of you, don't assume you know what it says. You're the ones who told people that when they thought the deal had to be good. The concept goes both ways.

Being naive is bad, yes. But that doesn't mean that being cynical is the best course. Being realistic, yes. There might not be a deal. It's stupid to assume there will be and to relax too soon. It would kill the resolve. But lets remember the AMPTP's strategy, the one that's been quoted as us all through this thing. The congloms want to raise hopes and bring them down. If it was so easy to knock down sources for the former, why don't you believe they might be doing the latter? (By "sources" I don't mean strike captains, etc., I mean newspapers, etc.) And even if they aren't, only the people working on the deal have seen it. Everyone else will see it Saturday.

If staying out as long as possible were a proven tactic for David beating Goliath, then I would suck it up and let this rage on. But it isn't. Like it or not, the AMPTP won't crumble underneath you. They're just too big. There's some realism that's necessary right now. They are hurting, and that means this is the time to act. And, though I'll be very upset, if the strike must go on, the strike must go on. But it should only go on if doing so will undoubtably get a better deal than the one seen on Saturday. Otherwise, it's extra months and many more people turning against your cause all for nothing. And they will turn. Maybe it isn't right, but looking for someone to blame is human nature. And, frankly, though much of that blame, when directed towards writers, is unfair, it also makes a point.

I've seen comment over comment here saying how the AMPTP is the group putting everyone out of work. They aren't. They just aren't. What they did was be assholes. I'm not saying in any way that they aren't idiots. I may not always be totally for the WGA, but I will never in my life have even a sliver of sympathy for the congloms. All the same, people would still be working if you weren't striking. I'm not saying you shouldn't have done it. I understand, as I've said many times. Voting to strike was what you had to do. But you still voted to do it. There is responsibility that must be accepted. Not accepting it is a big frustration point for many of the people you say should be supporting you.

Anyway, that's just a side complaint, not my main point. My main point is that everyone- the hardliners and the people yelling that they'll approve whatever's put in front of them alike- both need to stop. The deal is not finished yet. You have not seen it yet. You will, hopefully, Saturday, when the leadership you've trusted and told us to trust since the start shows it to you and takes your opinions. At that point, have at. I'm still praying for something good. On a personal level, yes, it's to get more episodes of my shows. I'm just a fan. But on a moral level, it's to get thousands of people back to work. Remember that you will have to explain your decision, whatever it is, to both yourselves and many others. Whatever it is. If you turn it down or if you ratify it.

Okay. By this point all my comments are 90% recylced and this one is just getting repetitve. Just know that whatever decision you make will be for the best. Staying on strike is only worth it if you gain something. At the same time, giving up is never good. So don't give up. But giving up and approving a deal are only the same thing if you can prove that the deal is bad by quoting the deal itself. Everyone, on both sides, go in with a clear head and open mind. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Don't assume the best or assume the worst. Saturday is the day. Until then, best wishes to all.

just a thought said...

I'm sure by now you know this
NF "My question remains this: Why isn't the WGA leadership leveling with its membership that the writers themselves won't have a say whether to call off the strike?"
Whu is she throwing the leadership under the bus.

screw the btl said...

As you vote on Saturday... keep in mind that this strike has put a great deal of people (the vast majority being non-WGA) out of work. Hopefully the SAG will get to the table soon and help Hollywood get back to work.

Jake Hollywood said...

caitlan

Have you even been on strike, been to the picket line? I have been-every fucking day. And while I haven't seen the precise language of the proposed deal, I do believe the people who have been given certain details from the leadership.

Caitlan, I'm in this, my livelihood is at stake, this is my career. Can you say the same? Until you can or been on the picket line or have listened to the explaination from those who have direct contact with the WGA leadership--

What I'm saying to you is this: unless I find out otherwise, what I do know and believe about the about to be proposed deal is more than enough for me to say or vote, "NO!"

And at this point in time, that's the way I'm leaning unless given enough info to convince me to do otherwise.

David said...

Tomorrow's New York Times has an article saying that UH's own Laeta Kalogridis played a big role in the negotiations.

Since the article is by Michael Cieply, I am not taking it at face value. But it seems to be to be a conflict of interest for her to be posting here while brokering deals behind the scenes.

She should have made this disclaimer clear in all of her posts. If Cieply were brokering a truce (Ha!) I would have expected the same.

Her compromises lauded by Cieply -- the delay until the 3rd year for any kind of % deal, and the non-closing of the freebie window -- are indeed issues that we should all discuss on Saturday. Once we sign off on a deal, there will not be any chance for a reshoot.

Think of it this way: they're offering 2% in 2 years. The flat offer we get until then -- $1300 -- would be 2% of $65,000. I would like to know how much they charge for an ad right now for a streamed episode of, say, Grey's Anatomy. Laeta?

David Handelman

just a thought said...

@ screw the btl
Look and the link on this blog about Alan Rosenberg. His guild is falling apart. Don't be so sure that he will get a strike vote.

Gary Watts said...

Have any of you read “The Art of War”?

If you haven’t then maybe you should, to help keep thing in prospective.

This is not the time for weakness…but the time for inner strength.

I have not worked since November and I am on the picket line almost everyday, and I am not even a WGA Guild member.


I believe in your leadership and their ability to do right by it’s membership, for if I did not believe this to be true I would not still be supporting You and Your Leadership.


It’s not over and the fat lady isn’t singing.



In Solidarity

~ Gary Watts ~ Member of the Screen Actors Guild

Gary Watts said...

Have any of you read “The Art of War”?

If you haven’t then maybe you should, to help keep thing in prospective.

This is not the time for weakness…but the time for inner strength.

I have not worked since November and I am on the picket line almost everyday, and I am not even a WGA Guild member.


I believe in your leadership and their ability to do right by it’s membership, for if I did not believe this to be true I would not still be supporting You and Your Leadership.


It’s not over and the fat lady isn’t singing.



In Solidarity

~ Gary Watts ~ Member of the Screen Actors Guild