2/10/2008

More Info on Voting

This email was just sent to strike captains. It contains info on the NegCom vote, the Board and Council votes, the pending vote to lift the strike, and the pending vote to ratify the contract.

DEAR STRIKE CAPTAINS,

This morning, the WGA Negotiating Committee unanimously and unconditionally recommended the terms of the proposed 2008 MBA to the WGAW Board and WGAE Council. The Board and Council then voted unanimously to recommend the contract, and to submit it to the joint membership of WGAW and WGAE for ratification. Ratification ballots will be mailed soon, and the ratification vote will be conducted over the next few weeks.More information about the ratification vote will be sent to you in a few days.

SPECIAL MEMBERSHIP VOTE:

An email will be sent out to the general membership later this afternoon announcing a special vote on Tuesday February 12. A yes vote means you are voting to end the strike immediately; a no vote means you are voting to continue the strike during the ratification process.

Ballots can be cast at the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles from 2 PM to 6 PM. For members that aren’t able to cast a ballot in person, proxy ballots can be downloaded at wga.org and faxed in. Proxy ballots and voting instructions will be posted at wga.org later today.

The strike remains in effect until the votes are counted. Results will be announced on Tuesday night.

Please encourage your team members to participate in this important decision and cast their ballots.

NO PICKETING MONDAY AND TUESDAY -- All pickets are suspended until the WGA membership votes to either end or continue the strike.

NOTE: WGAE voting takes place Tuesday from 4-7 PM at the Crowne Plaza on 49th and Broadway. Proxy ballots are on WGAE.org and must be returned to Guild East headquarters. Full info and proxy ballot are available on WGAEast.org.

15 comments:

Ashley Gable said...

Here's what wasn't mentioned:

From Variety:

"BREAKING: Showrunners back to work tomorrow

For the first time in more than three months, TV showrunners are heading back to the office on Monday.

Scribes who also have producing responsibilities on their shows will be allowed to return to work on Monday while the WGA conducts a membership vote on Monday and Tuesday on whether to formally lift the strike, WGA West prexy Patric Verrone said Sunday at a news conference to discuss the guild’s new contract and the vote to end the strike."

I really thought the Board had heard the membership on our desire not to end the strike before some kind of legitimate vote. But maybe the showrunners talked louder than the rest of us.

Rodney Peterson said...

Hmmm...one would think it would be worthwhile to picket in the hopes of putting the favored nations clause with SAG back on the contract. Specifically if they manage to negotiate a better DVD/BluRay/HD-DVD formula which I would be most concerned about for many reasons.

DM666 said...

Well, it's too bad, but not unexpected...

On unitedhollywood.com (the blog) last Tuesday was a terrific post about bargaining. I guess the WGA negotiators didn't read it, didn't know the info, or were too scared not to "blink."

Negotiating and bargaining is a nasty business. As a group, writers are probably the least capable in doing this kind of thing well. It's just not in their DNA.

All the WGA had to do (or still can do) is wait until the end of this month. It's when production deadlines/cutoffs for this fall and into next year start happening... At that point the AMPTP would certainly have to agree to what the WGA is asking for...

The sad thing is that the WGA is only asking for what's fair to them. However, the AMPTP would never think that way... to them, what's fair is to give as little as possible to anyone else... There's the difference in the respective groups' DNA.

However, in negotiations, you have to stay strong... something which the WGA has done until now...

Again, the focus of the WGA should have been on calendar time lines, not on the content of the negotiations. The AMPTP waited for dissension within the WGA, public pressure, and pressure from the below the line people, post production houses, etc. The WGA prevented dissension, worked with other groups, and avoided bad PR extremely well.

But, just before ultimate victory (for all, really), they seemed to have lost their minds... They still didn't get the DVD issue from years ago resolved (which will cost them for many more years to come). And, they accepted a poor timeframe on streaming content, the delay between first showing and when payments would kick in, etc.

If they had only waited until after the Oscars awards date...

Well, it just seems to be a case of human nature... those in charge and running things (in the AMPTP) probably as a whole are more assertive/agressive and have stronger wills/egos than writers do...

When negotiating with "evil," you need to realize this and have someone who can beat "evil," in order to have any chance...

Rodney Peterson said...

The part I don't understand is about the DVD/BluRay/HD-DVD formula regarding SAG's favored nations. What they said was the AMPTP screwed us on this at the last minute. How could they have not been aware of this and why would they back down on an issue like this so quickly? And why no organized picketing until at least the vote is taken? That would seem to be a way to get the issues some members are unhappy about back into public scrutiny and spotlight.
Nothing about the timetable of this surprises me nor should it anyone else. All along I've been saying they needed to wrap this up for the Oscars, otherwise it's highly embarrassing to the studios. One didn't need to own a crystal ball to figure this one out.
In a lot of ways 12,000 writers have just been played for pawns by a handful of people who will continue to screw them and other employees as a group at every opportunity.
Shouldn't we at least go out fighting?

Rodney Peterson

www.cuttingconfessionsfilm.blogspot.com

Chris S said...

If the negotiation team had waited, the wait would not have been until the end of the month. It would have been until June 30th, or the fall, or next year.

Our leadership was smart. They played the game until it was clear the game could not be played any longer without catastrophic loss.

It's good faith to let the showrunners get back into it. It's called give and take.

And the truth is that in business your enemy yesterday becomes your partner tomorrow. Is it all fair. No. Is it perfect. No. But it is reality.

Frustrated Bystander said...

Hey Ashley --

Wow, Variety is really jumping the gun! Remember, that's the corporate spin. Don't let them split you off with spin.

Too bad Variety didn't have someone blogging for them last night. They are going to have eat that Monday morning report, unless the Showrunners really are going back on Monday?

I've been talking to the hubman about possible buyer's remorse. I think the membership is going to vote "yes" to get off striking, so I am hoping if the dreaded buyer's remorse sets in during the ten day "cooling down" ratification period, that people understand they've already bought the car.

I completely celebrate everyone's excitement to get back to work and KEEP their shows and their jobs on the shows they have. I get that in three weeks or so, everyone would have been released and may not have a show or a job to come back to in the fall. So, yes, get back to work.

But my concern is what if some weirdness crops up that is a deal breaker because of legal language or a deal point being reneged on? Will the AMPTP in good faith restore that deal point without all the contentiousness of the early part of these negotiations? I sure hope so.

My question to the hubman has been, "Honey, was this worth the 60K savings that we cashed out in October?" And will you be having buyer's remorse as the ten day cooling period sets in when the pros and cons start being bandied back and forth about the implications of the deal points?

I am grateful that the leadership is allowing the membership to steer these decisions about returning to work and ratification. I am happy for all our friends who are going back to work and safeguarding their positions on new and established shows for the rest of the TV season, whatever may be left of it.

Hubman can't wait to get back to work himself, but as always, I'm a bit of the devil's advocate...not because I want to be contentious, but because I want to proceed with caution and forethought.

Thank goodness there is a 48 hour discussion period before the vote to call off the strike. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to remain on strike. Whatever's left of the trashed CD we cashed out going back into savings would be a huge relief.

I'm just hoping the AMPTP's attack dogs have been called off and we don't get bit in the ass by the snake in the grass.

Still in shock said...

Well... I came to the meeting to be convinced, and I left... horrified. And I regret deeply not speaking up with my concerns at the meeting -- a feeling I bet others share.

Let me preface this by saying I love all of the board and Negcom guys. They've been dealing with these monsters for months and I applaud them. Truly. They deserve our respect and gratitude and they have mine. And maybe they are right, that they looked into the eyes of these guys and knew that this was the best that we could get... I just don't happen to believe it.

We have been played like children by these sociopaths throughout this entire ordeal. What I came away from the meeting with was knowing that we got screwed out of favored nations status in writing at the last minute, are trusting to a handshake(!) any increases made by SAG in their contract, and are excluded from getting any DVD money if they get more.

Even one of the board members flat out admitted it to a questioner last night: We just sold the internet for a year for a max of 1600 dollars. That's including foreign. With a 17 day window that all of the board members said they were really worried by.

So, basically, after 17 days of FREE usage, they could run an episode of Lost, all day, every day, for an entire year, all over the world -- even run it as the little ticker at the bottom of the CNN screen if they chose, and the most that writer would get is --1600 bucks. Does that seem like a fair deal in any universe? And this will be the platform that we work from forever. Just like the terrible DVD model we're STILL living with.

I was almost ashamed to be a member of the WGA last night. We had a chance to strike shoulder to shoulder with SAG, shut down the Oscars, and threaten 8 billion dollars in ad revenue at the upfronts... none of which the networks would have let happen, and instead we let ourselves be punked out of fear. This was not the moment of greatest leverage for us. It was only the beginning of that leverage.

I'm sorry to be so down, but the entire tone of that charade was just so false. Backpatting each other over overcoming the draconian rollbacks that the AMPTP started the negotiations with. Any child could see that that was just posturing. At that point we should have come back demanding 50% of the internet and 3 dollars a DVD. Then they would have known they were in for a fight with adults who also knew how to posture. Instead we started with our bottom line offer. Well, it won us the P.R war but it let them know they could play us like fiddles which they did, stalling until they could deal with the DGA and then stalling until this artificial "Time's up" deadline appeared. Oh and by the way, unless you agree to end the strike and recommend this to your members you can't even have it. Now get out.

I'm not voting for this turkey. If we had just had the guts to hold out a little longer we could have really gotten something. I'm not saying we didn't get anything, we did, but we could have gotten more, instead of this empty feeling of vague shame. We've been repeatedly lied to, slapped around and punked, the very latest being this whole Favored Nation thing being yanked away from us at the last second. And instead of getting angry... we just take it.

Their anger over the Oscars is a feint. The real prizes are the upfronts which net these guys 8 billion a year in upfront ad buys... usually for turkeys they couldn't sell in the light of day and next year's movie slate. I don't believe they would risk either.


We did blink. Twice. I understand having to pay bills, and mortgages, and feed your children, I really do. But those realities were there when we voted 90% to strike in the first place, weren't they? There comes a moment in any fight when you may be frightened, you may be losing, and you're certainly tired and bleeding. In that moment an individual looks inside of himself and takes measure of his soul. And either finds the courage to rise and fight on... or looks inward and finds... nothing but fear. And that moment of giving in haunts him/her for the rest of their lives, if they want to admit it or not. This is that moment.

We can get more. And it won't take three months either. None of those sociopaths want SAG and the WGA striking at the same time. It's their worst nightmare.

Vote no. Vote no. Vote no.

P.S. Sorry for the multiple postings but I'm trying to get this on as many channels as possible. And if it is true about showrunners going back on Monday, all I can say is... wow.

jason said...

Subject: Was it all worth it???

I just want to say . . . Thank you, Patric! ...and David Young! My question is when looking at this proposed deal is . . .what the heck were you doing? I mean, was it all worth it to strike for that long of a period? The months of walking the picket lines, costing jobs, costing deals, ruining the Hollywood economy, causing hardship, losing health insurance (because the leadership forgot to freeze the benefits)??? Was it all worth it? I have blogged on here before stating that I worked with this leadership at the guild (under the guild's roof) and have found them to be incompetent boobs. Many of you defended them, including the hosts of this UH website. So, now I am just wondering what is your feeling and thoughts about this leadership group now? You must realize that this leadership group is insulated by their salaries and benefits and the people who politically appointed them at the guild. Therefore, I think it's time for a change. I think these leaders need to go . . . to be removed. They obviously don't know how to run a guild properly. . . somthing I learned while working beside them at the guild. Please tell me you feel the same way that I do and that justice must be served swiftly. We needs WGA leaders who actually care about the membership. Not politically appointed hacks who only serve their own interests. While working at the guild I heard these people utter the words..."Who cares about the writers. As long as our business infrastructure is intact we're fine." I for one am outraged. This is a travesty. What say you???

Travel Bug said...

Come on you guys. You're all rich. Let those of us that need money get back to work. Not in a few days, NOW!

We're losing our homes, apartments, credit and future work. Friday the 15th my house goes into foreclosure. If I tell them credit union I'm working it may save my home. A few days to you is nothing, it means a lot to the rest of us that have been really paying the price of your strike.

You're going to make your millions, let us get back to work and stop holding us hotage. You said if the board agreed you would go back and vote later. Heck they gave you standing ovations. Isn't that enough attention?

Haven't you made us suffer for your millions enough?!

Luzid said...

"The strike remains in effect until the votes are counted. Results will be announced on Tuesday night."

then

"NO PICKETING MONDAY AND TUESDAY -- All pickets are suspended until the WGA membership votes to either end or continue the strike."

Uh, isn't this contradictory? Isn't ordering writers not to picket BEFORE the votes are counted a violation of the concept of voting on ending the strike?

MrKlaatu said...

luzid,

No. We may not be picketing, but we will still be on strike. There will be no writing on those days. You can strike without picketing. We've had many days without them during this strike.

jimmy said...

Luzid - striking means writers do not work. they were on strike on the weekends and through the holidays too, right? because they did not work.

Ashley Gable - the show runners are returning to work Monday as PRODUCERS. not writers. remember, they (most of them) gave the WGA additional leverage by deciding not to do either during the strike.

And I'm sure if the meetings were not both so positive and the board had not unanimously recommended the deal, they would have held off.

Michael said...

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but the showrunners going back to work is kind of outside WGA jurisdiction anyway. I mean, they could have continued to perform their producing duties during the strike without technically scabbing (of course, they would have run out of scripts to produce pretty quick). But to their credit, they walked out on masse. (Remember those breach letters?_ But the point is, their resuming their producing duties prior to the strike officially being lifted doesn't seem so horrible. I guess it might be nice if they didn't *write* anything until Wednesday.

Chips Down said...

Not having picket lines on Monday and Tuesday makes perfect sense. This way writers that have been working on thier scripts dilligently through the course of the strike can walk into work Monday with no resistance. No one will be there to see who is going in to work before the strike is 'officially' called off.

The AMPTP won this round, no surprise there. They've also won the next few rounds now that they know how to really play the game with the WGA.

Those of you who spend your time wanting to know the names of people who are opposed to ending the strike are quite the work of art. The strike vote is secret, there is a reason for that, it's to protect voters from people just like you.

I have no stake in this strike, just an outside observer and a long time union activist, but I can clearly see that there were no real gains made in this deal and in some ways it was more a step back in the wrong direction.

But it's up to you to decide and hopefully your decision isn't going to be made based on personal hardship. While I can fully understand it, I know that you will be regretting it for a long time to come.

Luzid said...

@ MrKlaatu and jimmy:

Thanks, guys. I was kind of heated last night and didn't really think that one through. Watching people who deserve to be fairly compensated lose any real residuals does that to me, I suppose.

(I'd love to be wrong about that conclusion, but I just don't trust the AMPTP not to screw writers, given its history.)