Emotions are flying fast and furious around this issue: do we hold a ratification vote before we lift the strike? Or do we go back to work as quickly as Monday, and hold the vote afterwards?
To get our position up here as quickly and accurately as possible, we decided to do separate grafs signed by each of us, and combine them into one post.
We're all coming at this from different perspectives and differing opinions of the deal itself -- some of us support it, some of us don't -- but we're all saying the same thing about the vote.
We need to have one, before the strike is lifted.
Oh, except for Ian.
From John Aboud and Laeta Kalogridis:
Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!
It really pissed us both off when we read in today's NYT that late night producers are presumptuously acting like everyone will be back on Monday. Despite the fact that we’re satisfied with the deal, we hate the implication that somehow our decisions have been hijacked by the companies. Eisner finally and irrevocably etched his name in the Book of Douche with his statements. It makes us feel like pawns when the past three months have been about us asserting our rights. That's NOT the way to end a strike.
A 48 hour’ notice vote is doable according to the WGA Constitution, Article VII, Section 2b. That section provides for a 48 hours’ notice membership meeting that can only deal specifically with strike-related issues. A ratification vote is OBVIOUSLY a strike-related issue. The provision clearly exists in the Constitution for just these kinds of situations.
Notification won’t be perfect – even with email and phone banking, some people won’t get the message. But that would happen with the 10-day vote as well. The 48 hour vote isn’t the perfect solution. But it’s the best one in this situation.
The problem with a 10-day ratification vote is that waiting 10 days to go back to work would harm many tv shows and the last gasp hope of any kind of pilot season. Going back to work before the ratification would solve that problem; but it creates a new, worse one, which is that we all return to work before the new contract is ratified.
People who’ve worked selflessly and tirelessly for the leverage that got us this contract deserve a chance to be heard in a democratic vote. We think the 48 hour vote is the best way to balance our right to be heard with the need to get the town back to work as quickly and responsibly as possible.
Reasonable people will disagree on this contract, but we all deserve a say.
From David Latt:
I am going to vote in favor of the deal and I want the strike to be over as soon as possible. I'd even be in favor of letting the Board end the strike on Sunday. BUT, I think not letting the membership vote on the deal before the strike is ended would have terrible consequences for Guild solidarity.
To deny to the members who have worked so hard and long for this strike to not get the chance to vote up-or-down on the deal would be a bad decision. There's a lot of frustration and anger out there in email-land and we'll hear about it tonight at the meeting that the deal isn't good enough.
Personally, I believe we have negotiated a very good deal--with this contextual proviso--given what the AMPTP wanted us to get. Is the deal a fair and equitable valuation of our contribution to their businesses? No. Could we get more if we did something different? What would that be? The only real power we have to get an improvement of the deal is to stay out on strike. We only gain more clout once SAG begins its negotiations and that doesn't happen for at least 4 months. Our leverage doesn't increase during that time, so we'd have to keep on picketing and wait. That seems counter-intuitive and destructive in the extreme.
In my opinion this negotation is Step 1 in a multi-step, on-going process to redefine the entertainment business at the same time we hold onto what we've won in the past.
I would encourage everyone to attend tonight's meeting. I know it's Saturday night (I had to cancel a long-planned dinner) and we've been at the strike long enough to be tired of the whole thing, but this is the end-game and that's as important as how we started.
For those of you who want the strike to end and, after you analyze the deal points, you are convinced that's the right thing to do, you need to attend the meeting so your voice is heard. If you read the deal and decide that we haven't won enough and the deal should be rejected, you need to attend as well.
From Kate Purdy:
I also think a 48 vote is the best option. It gives us 4 days to look over the contract and consider before we cast our ballots (Today -Tuesday).
While I'm satisfied with the contract -- understanding it has gains, and some weaknesses -- I believe our leadership when they say that they fought tooth and nail, and can assure us they left nothing on the negotiating table. However, I also think the membership wants and should have the right to ratify it, or not.
To me, that's a sign of a mobilized union - people demanding the right to have their voice heard. I think it's a tremendous indication of our strength and commitment to our guild.
From Ian Deitchman:
We've come a long, long way, haven't we? And we owe that to our solidarity, to everybody who walked the lines and to our leadership.
I'll be honest, we got a lot more in this deal than I ever thought was possible. I'm one of those who's been labeled both a "moderate" and a "dissenter" during this strike. Of course, what does that really mean? It means that when I was invited to recent outreach meetings I implored leadership to take advantage of our moment of greatest leverage, but to not go past the tipping point (i.e. the Oscars and losing the next TV season). I said the same in private e-mails when my opinion was asked for.
Well, I'm happy to say Patric, David and John used that leverage and got us a deal of which we can all feel proud. Certainly not a perfect deal, but a deal with real, substantive victories. Part of achieving that deal called for a good-faith agreement - the companies would make some concessions provided that our guys would do their best to end the strike in time to save the Oscars and the next TV season (something that benefits everybody, by the way).
But now, many of leadership's most ardent backers are claiming that they're being railroaded. That they're going to be cut out of the democratic process if the strike is lifted before we vote. First of all, consitutionally the Board has the right to lift the strike whenever it pleases. But more importantly, why should we suddenly start distrusting our leaders NOW? Are these same people who angrily villified dissenting voices critical of leadership during the strike now crying disenfranchisement? Really?
The deal is not perfect. It was NEVER going to be perfect. We don't live in a perfect world. Would we all love to take ten days for a ratification vote before lifting the strike? Of course. But the PRACTICAL REALITY is that our leadership made a good faith deal that we should honor and getting back to work as soon as possible is the best thing for everyone in this industry. Every day that we hold things up over process is a day that the writers keep people out of work, not the corporations. Our negotiators are recommending a deal that they say is the best we're going to get right now. If they haven't earned our trust at this point, when will they ever?
Let's allow our board to do the job we elected them to do. If membership supports the deal - and by all signs they will and many already do - then the Board should be able to lift the strike Sunday night at their discretion. Personally, they've EARNED my trust.
From Jeffrey Berman:
We need to end this in a way that recognizes the incredible unity and diversity of what we've built. Agree with the deal, don't agree with it, either way: we need to vote to know for sure.
It's a disservice to all the members who can't be at Saturday's meeting to call for some informal measure of member opinion. It's not enough to "take the temperature," -- we need to take the vote.
Every member had a say in this before we went on strike, when we voted for a strike authorization. Every member should have a say in this before we end it.