2/08/2008

What Happened at the Strike Captain’s Meeting Today?

The Strike Captains met at the WGA Theater today and we were allowed to look at the NOT FINISHED Terms Of Agreement. The reason that the Guild has not published them to everyone in the membership is because they ARE NOT FINISHED. In fact, still today the negotiating team has to fight the AMPTP lawyers on drafting legal language that the lawyers keep backsliding on – which sounds like, “Nope, my boss never agreed to that.” Then our leadership shows them their notes from the meeting. They say, “Well, here are our notes,” which contradict – so the leadership has to call up Chernin and Iger – who then have to call their lawyers and tell them to back-off. Then, the music stops and they scramble for chairs.

If the AMPTP lawyers don’t hammer out the legal language tonight in a fair way that was agreed upon by all parties, and get it signed by their CEO bosses by midnight tonight (the agreed upon deadline) then it only hurts the AMPTP and the entire town, because there is no way the leadership will show it to us until it’s finalized. They know too well how slippery these folks are – once you tell your membership this is what it will be – well then the lawyers have no incentive to improve on the legal language.

So, that is why you haven’t seen the terms and deal points yet. However, as soon as the ink is dry – they will be emailed to you both in summary and in longform immediately by your guild (East and West). Hopefully, that will be tonight, or early tomorrow morning. This way they can be studied and discussed before the general assemblies (East and West) tomorrow.

Generally, how is the deal?

Patric Verrone, Michael Winship, David Young, and John Bowman are all recommending the deal. They think it’s a good one – not perfect – but a good solid deal that we would never have gotten if we hadn’t have gone out on strike. They believe we got every last penny on the table. Like in any negotiation, neither side is 100% satisfied. But, on our side there are good gains, and notable gains in the area of New Media.

Okay, so what's going to happen at the Saturday meeting?

Well, if the document is signed and delivered – as it should be – the Negotiating Team will go over the document point by point. They will then outline what the steps moving forward might be:

1. If a majority of the assembly seems happy with the Terms of Agreement, and will likely ratify it – the greater board will take this into consideration when they meet on Sunday. Then, on Sunday they will vote on whether or not to lift the strike, and send everyone back to work on Monday. They will only vote to lift it if they feel that the majority of membership likes the deal and will ratify it. If that's the case – we go back to work on Monday. Meanwhile the traditional 10 day ratification process takes place: everyone receives ballots, sends in their vote, their vote is counted...

2. If at the assembly the feedback from the membership is that they are not happy with the deal and will likely not ratify it, then the board takes that into consideration when they vote on Sunday. If they vote not to lift the strike, we then stay out 10 more days as we ratify the vote. Keep in mind staying out 10 more days would hurt the rest of TV season, the Oscars, next year's pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate. This not only hurts the companies, it also hurts us, and the whole town.

3. If the board does not lift the strike, and we vote the deal down after the 10 day ratification process. Then, the Negotiating Team goes back to the drawing table, and begins negotiating again. This time around though, we’re likely to be out until SAG negotiates in June. An old timer mentioned that that’s the course the membership took in ’88, and they were out for 3 more months and got no notable gains. Our leverage right now is the rest of TV season, the Oscars, pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate - once we pass the point of no return on those we've lost leverage for a good while.

4. The 48 hour ratification process. If on Sunday the board votes not to lift the strike, then they could enact this process. However, this means robocalling, emailing, phoning, and getting in instant contact with every member to let them know that there will be a vote in the next 48 hours. This is called the notification period – not impossible… but not the best option because many numbers and email addresses for members are outdated – and the guild would want an accurate vote of all membership – not just the ones who update their contact information. The 10 day period gives more time for mailed ballots to find their owners. However, if the board decides to go with the 48 hour ratification process, and the majority of membership vote to ratify the terms, then we would likely be back at work on Wednesday.

I hope I’ve answered more questions than I’ve raised. I would suggest coming to the meeting tomorrow with an open mind. I would also highly suggest coming to the meeting tomorrow. It will not only ensure that you have all the information, and that your voice will be heard when the board measures their decision on Sunday, it will also ensure that the board gets a representative idea of where we stand as a membership.

When and where is the meeting again?

Saturday February 9
New York: 2pm. Broadway Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Times Square, 1606 Broadway (Broadway and 49th Street)
Los Angeles: 7pm. Shrine Auditorium, 649 W Jefferson Blvd 90007.

Current active members only. Picture ID will be required for entry. Parking at the Shrine will be provided.

Hope to see you all there.

43 comments:

Chips Down said...

And there you have it, the ultimatum. If you don't vote for it tomorrow, you lose.

You've been on strike for 3 months just to get to this particular date because this date signifies all the cards you have been holding. Seems to me you simply should have started the strike 2 months later so you could have had actual pressure in the last while.

Seems to me that you now have your back up against the wall, you aren't given any real options. The leadership is basically saying if you don't vote for it tomorrow that you have no bargaining chips to hold over the AMPTP until June. I find that rather disturbing, since all along I kept hearing that by virtue of the strike itself there would be pressure on the AMPTP to deal.

Now apparently it isn't the strike but rather deadlines that are important in getting the deal. Hmmm.

Caitlin said...

I certainly hope that AMPTP side gets their asses on gear, because it's themselves they need to save. Best of luck in that respect, and I hope the extra time pays off. People do need to review the deal before they can speak their minds on it.

And thank you for this post. Aside from the varied reasons for voting one way or the other, you need to know that the choice will still be the best one three months from now. If you don't end the strike, you need to know- and to be able to prove- that it will be worth it. I'm not saying say yes no matter what. I'm saying, sadly, there's only so much you're going to get, even when you do desereve much more. If, after three more months out of work, the next proposed deal isn't significantly imroved, there will be far more bitterness than there is even now and that will last on your record forever.

Again- don't just approve anything. If you hate it, after examing it, shoot it down. If you're stuck and unsure, go to the meeting and make your decision from what you hear. But if you can live with it and think good things were accomplished, I do think you should vote to approve. And yes, for me, it's just to get more episodes of my shows. But for many, many other people, including yourselves, it's so much more.

So, once more, good luck. And, everything else aside, you'd sure as hell better have that thing in your inboxes soon.

MrKlaatu said...

4. The 48 hour ratification process. If on Sunday the board votes not to lift the strike, then they could enact this process. However, this means robocalling, emailing, phoning, and getting in instant contact with every member to let them know that there will be a vote in the next 48 hours. This is called the notification period – not impossible… but not the best option because many numbers and email addresses for members are outdated – and the guild would want an accurate vote of all membership – not just the ones who update their contact information. The 10 day period gives more time for mailed ballots to find their owners. However, if the board decides to go with the 48 hour ratification process, and the majority of membership vote to ratify the terms, then we would likely be back at work on Wednesday.

Clearly this is the best option. At this late hour, the members must be given enough time to digest the deal before voting, or I feel many will vote NO simply because they never got that chnce. We shouldn't drag our feet just to be dicks, but we also don't have to kill ourselves to meet the moguls' timetable. They could've made this offer to us long ago.

Forty-eight hours is plenty of time to get the vote going. One email to members. Bang. If people don't have email or any friends AND they haven't bothered to update their contact info even though they know about the strike, then fuck 'em.

Option four is the only reasonable option for all parites and points-of-view.

Barry Rubinowitz said...

This is a bit slanted. I don't believe there has ever been a ten-day waiting period for a mail vote with a strike already in progress. The list of horribles presented if the membership has to actually vote seems designed to discourage those present from insisting on a vote before ending the strike. I hope all of those present consider the contract in the context of our needs without the fear the poster is clearly attempting to generate.

stuiec said...

"Keep in mind staying out 10 more days would hurt the rest of TV season, the Oscars, next year's pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate. This not only hurts the companies, it also hurts us, and the whole town."

Kate, is this your personal opinion, or the official position of the union leadership as communicated at the strike captains' meeting?

There is an intermediate possibility: if the membership is lukewarm on the deal at the Saturday conclaves, the WGA could keep the strike on for the ten days (from Sunday the 10th to Wednesday the 20th) while the full membership considers the deal in detail and votes on whether to ratify -- but at the same time grants a waiver for the Oscars. If the vote on the 20th is to ratify, well and good, and you're only a week behind the theoretical Valentine's Day deadline for the current TV season & pilot season; if not, you're most likely committed to stay out through the SAG/AFTRA negotiations anyhow, so the leverage of the Oscars telecast is a moot point.

PJ said...

As long as the 17 day promo window remains shut, it could get very stuffy in that meeting room tomorrow IMO.

We need fresh air to breathe and that means opening the window and that may take more time to unlock it.

Companies are playing "let them sweat" with these premeditated bullying delay tactics. I don't like ultimatums or pressure tactics or backsliding in order to back Writers into a time constraint corner.

I don't understand why Companies won't share in day one percentage sharing of EST revenues. An estimated 25-36% of TV audiences now now watch TV Shows online and that number is growing.

Internet advertising is 40 billion this year and expected to double in three years. NBC alone will make 1 billion this year.

Baiting TV Writers with a deal which amounts to a rollback in order to save the TV Season doesn't make much sense to me.

And SAG already voiced their opinion on this 17 day promo window issue.

So what's the point of accepting a deal that is unacceptable to SAG?

We will in effect be on strike again with production shut down in a matter of months and be stuck with a crappy deal as a result.

I think we need MORE leverage...

I would rather wait for a de facto WGA/SAG Strike and get a better deal than have to go through this again in 36 months...

Or in three months...

I hate to say this because I hate this Strike but I wouldn't be shocked if the Monday Morning headlines Read:

"Writers reject deal, 17 Day Promo window the sticking point. SAG weighs in, calling it an unacceptable rollback"

Jon Raymond said...

"Keep in mind staying out 10 more days would hurt the rest of TV season, the Oscars, next year's pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate. This not only hurts the companies, it also hurts us, and the whole town...."

What does any of that have to do with whether the deal is good for writers in the longer term? The longer term is what the strike is all about, yes? Writers have already sacrificed in the short term, and who cares about the Oscars?

What you're saying here is the deal isn't all that great. Otherwise, what's the concern over "the rest of TV season, the Oscars, next year's pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate?"

If those things are not forsaken, it doesn't hurt the companies but it could hurt writers for at least three years. Seems that point was missed.

Then you say if the deal isn't agreed to, writers could lose their leverage for a while. What about the side deals already signed? What about the new media start-up ideas like strike TV? What if "TV season, the Oscars, next year's pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate" are peanuts compared to what new media has in store?

Someone trying to sell a bad deal? Good deals sell themselves.

Kate Purdy said...

Dear Chips Down,

No ultimatum, just my recounting of the events, and I'm sure there is an unattended slant toward my personal opinion that yes it's a fair deal, and yes we should go back to work.

However, I would like to vote. I don't think any option is perfect. The 48 hours is the best, but if most at the auditorium tomorrow want it to pass, why not go back to work on Monday - knowing it will?

Although, based on comments here and concerned raised by several captains at the meeting today - I don't think everyone is ready for that to happen. I think it may be best for the membership to take the 48 hour vote.

But we'll see how tomorrow goes.

PJ McIlvaine said...

As a writer who aspires to be in the Guild, if I were a voting member today, I'd vote NO if the details of this contract are as described via all the leaks. A crappy contract is a crappy contract six months or six years from now. IMO, this rush to judgement stinks and quite frankly I'm getting annoyed at UH. Who's timeline are you operarting on, the WGA's or the AMPTP's? The hell with the Oscars!

doverbeach said...

Thanks Kate. Now, about the "let's not rush into a bad deal" sentiment that's out there:

1) This leadership has earned my trust. They've fought hard. They've made the right friends (SAG). They've made the right enemies ("moderates" who wanted us to take the DGA deal and run - before it was even disclosed).

They've shut down the Globes. They've been plenty confrontational (Ellen, Leno, etc.) And they've communicated with all of us, fully and honestly - almost to a fault.

They've done it all for free - and I believe, at considerable career risk.

So overnight they've become "AMPTP shills" (as I've read elsewhere) that "caved" and are giving "ultimatums"? Sorry. No sale. John Bowman, apart from having the patience of a saint, has played poker with these assholes for months. He knows what they're holding- and what we are.

2) So much confusion on calling off the strike tomorrow. People: the strike is a TACTIC. It is not the be-all and end-all. A good deal is.

We can all go back on strike AT ANY TIME, on a day's notice, if things get dicey. (Thanks, internet!) That's the flexibility you get with a duly elected board.

Hence I have no problem with a conditional lifting of the pickets. It's revocable, it's a good faith gesture ... and if we're not big enough to make one of these, who the fuck are we?

3) Timing. Ideally I'd like a week or two to examine the terms in minute detail before lifting the strike. Unfortunately, the Oscars and the impending meltdown of pilot season - i.e., the real world - doesn't allow for this.

Think of two diagonal lines ascending and converging into a peak. The line on the left is the AMPTP's willingness to deal. The line on the right is our leverage. Our strength.

We are teetering on top of the peak right now. The only downside is that both our leverage and their willingness (driven by Oscars + pilots + film slates) are temporary. We share a deadline, fast approaching.

(Ahh, deadlines ... I remember those.)

You can argue that waiting for SAG will bring us back to this mountaintop. I disagree with that point of view. But it's debatable.

What's not debatable is the very real damage to innocent bystanders that an additional 3,4,5 months of striking would do.

So yes, I'm willing to be quick + nimble + call off the pickets, if our leadership recommends. We'll still have plenty of time to look at the deal and discuss, and ultimately vote. In fact, calling off the pickets will give all of us more time to do this!

We sacrifice absolutely NONE of our underlying rights in doing so.

4) A final, somewhat counterintuitive point. In the end, it's NOT GOING TO COME DOWN TO TERMS - which I'm sure we'll all quibble with, to one degree or another. I don't like the promo window. I don't like alot of the terms I'm hearing about.

It's going to come down to judgment. That is - knowing what we know - are these terms the best achievable now, and in the foreseeable future? What's the risk/reward? And since none of us has been at the table, is our negotiating team to be believed and trusted on this score?

Let's hear them out. Let's listen with open, clear, unbiased, and unsuspicious minds. And let's be proud of what we've accomplished to this point as well.

This union is not just our shield. It's our weapon. It's a nice big shiny knife. It's carved out what by all accounts are signifigant improvements over the DGA deal. Not awesome improvements. Not perfect. But signifigant.

And compared to the misery and suffering caused by the AMPTP's walkout, we've wielded our knife like the most benevolent of fucking surgeons.

But even a good knife can be chipped. Weakened. We should think twice about doing this. Because we're going to need this knife again ... in about three years. Regardless.

A good knife isn't perfect. A good knife needs to be able to glance off a bone, slip through a ribcage. Stay just intact enough to reach the heart.

A good knife needs to be flexible.

WGA, now and forever.

stuiec said...

mrklaatu: 48 hours is enough time to organize a vote, but still hardly enough time for the membership to digest and discuss and perhaps even debate the terms of the deal. Assuming you see the deal tonight, are you confident that by this Tuesday night you and the rest of the members will have a solid understanding of what the deal points mean to each of you individually as well as all of you collectively?

Whether you collectively decide to go back to work while considering your ratification decision or decide to stay on strike during that deliberation, you need to make sure you allot enough time so that the members feel confident in the process.

rHob said...

Don't know if my last post went or not, so here it is again...

I just hope that you guys go in there in a logical, intellectual frame of mind and not an emotional frame of mind. There is much more to lose than just the tv season, there are people's livlihoods. The industry will not survive any more time out. My wife always tells me, after being at work for 14 hours when I am trying to make a deadline..."There are no television emergencies"....meaning we are not saving lives or protecting a country. I used to have a client that would say "We are not curing cancer, we're creating it". I guess what I am trying to say is that what you are voting on tomorrow is not a television emergency, you are voting for my wife, my kids, the guy who works next to me, it's for his wife and kids, etc..... you actually might be saving lives tomorrow and be the heroes. Please remember (and this goes for the Moguls' lawyers too) that there are people attached to this that never had a say so in it in the first place.

rHob

Dennis Wilson said...

Kate, I too would "suggest coming to the meeting tomorrow with an open mind." I wish this piece -- which Nikki Finke describes as "lobbying in favor of the deal" -- had been written with one. It's extremely slanted, especially items 2 and 3.

Meanwhile, we still haven't seen the contract. Given that we now have less than 21 hours before the meeting (and that's if it showed up right now) to go over it, it would be irresponsible and, frankly, damned inconsiderate to end the strike right away Sunday morning. And now that we know about the 48-hour ratification option, there is no reason, difficult though it may be, not to use it.

J. said...

There is a huge difference between the strike in 88 and this one: SAG.

There was no the-entire-industry-is-about-to-shut-down scenario then. That's why they didn't get a better deal.

You can bet that as time goes by they will want to prevent a complete shutdown in production and that they will suddenly be willing to pay for it.

I don't think we'll have to wait until June to get there either.

For the first time the AMPTP is hurting.

A 17-day window? I really think that's going to be the thing we regret the most.

Because as a future AppleTV 2.0 owner, I believe that I'll just tell it the shows that I like at the beginning of the season and it will get every one of them for me. On the first day they are available, not the 18th day that its available. And then I can watch it any time I want.

Or is that considered a download? And will I be getting the reviled DVD rate for it?

I know I might be seeming like a hard-liner, but all I want is a deal that I will feel good about.

I feel like this is being railroaded. Think of how long we were told to wait and to reserve judgement before commenting on the DGA deal. I have a feeling were going to get a bunch of positive spin at the meeting just like the DGA put such a positive spin on their deal and then it turned out to be terrible.

I also made a commitment that I was going to be protecting future generations when I supported this strike. In the same way that people had to go on a long strike to get us health care in generations past.

I don't want to make a deal that I'll be ashamed of. And given that it's being presented with what seems like some scare-mongering and ultimatums and no time for analysis.

It's after 4 a.m. on the east coast and we still have no deal to analyze and make a decision on by tomorrow??

This feels like being at a car dealership and being told that I'm getting a great deal, but not being able to take the contract home and look at it before I make a decision.

Chris S said...

It's clear there are varied opinions about how to handle the vote for ratification of the deal.

That's what tomorrow is about. The leadership says every question will be answered. All voices heard. The meeting won't end until all worries and concerns are put out there.

Nothing is being rammed, or forced. No one is being bamboozled.

Isn't the bottom line to get a fair deal and get back to work?

And yes, the TV season matters, The Oscars matter, to the companies. To the WGA members who work on them. To the other industry folk who have been off work for months.

If the deal seems acceptable, why is it wrong to get back to business?

After all, that's what we're here for. Not a hundred years strike.

We have been forced into striking to make our voice heard, not to replace our day jobs as writers.

BTL Guy said...

You dance with the one who brought you...

Okay conspiracy lovers, what's Verrone-n-Young's motivation for "selling" you a "bad deal?"

If your leadership, who has been at the heart of the negotiation for the past three months, tell you this is the best deal you're going to get; what is your newfound basis for doubting them?

I'm not telling anyone to vote yea or nay (I hope you approve the deal, but that's different than telling you to approve it).

I'm not saying that you should be lemmings and blindly follow your leaders (I've said the opposite since the beginning).

What I'm asking is: if you've been so loyal to these guys for the past three months, what is it that makes you doubt them now? Especially when you haven't even seen the deal yet?

It's a complicated process. For the sake of the industry, please at least attend this meeting rationally and with an open mind.

Good luck.

Harold said...

The only way the NegCom isn't ending the strike is if the membership overwhelmingly indicates that the deal sucks. That isn't going to happen. This strike is over. The NegCom doesn't need anyone's approval to end the strike. When it does end the strike (AND IT WILL), there is little incentive for members not to vote for the proposed deal, because it means continuing to work under the existing contract and there will be ZERO incentive for AMPTP to budge on the proposed deal. It's not as if the NegCom is going to ask for ANOTHER strike.

The leadership has shown that it was out of touch, amateurish, and generally gullible when it dumped the DVD proposal in exchange for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The NegCom then dumped the reality and animation proposals for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I already know a few of the primary arguments that will be made in favor of the proposed deal tomorrow. One is "A vote AGAINST the proposed deal is a vote FOR the existing contract." Another will be that the best leverage that the guild has is now, and the proposed deal will only get WORSE if the strike continues because AMPTP will begin backtracking on it.

Make no mistake. Tomorrow will be "here's the deal and you're going to like it" meetings.

The B.S. posturing has been taking place. The NegCom is already communicating that this is the best that it can do. Strike captains are already arguing that continuing to strike will not result in a better deal.

AMPTP worked this strike with disturbing efficiency. The guild called for the strike, but AMPTP has controlled the agenda of it since the beginning.

Bottom line: The proposed deal is not going to be worth the strike. A similar deal probably would have been obtained if everyone had continued to work and the DGA got its deal done.

I hope everyone liked the DGA deal, because this one is going to look more like it than not.

Despite all of the B.S. posturing, the B.S. "strike until it's right," etc., pattern bargaining continues to be insurmountable.

I take no pleasure in saying "I told you so." I would much prefer to be wrong.

These are the facts:

1. Despite the good intentions of Verrone et al, they were not experienced negotiators. They should have recognized their inability to achieve strike success after the "America's Next Top Model" strike that also ended in an impressively complete failure. Experienced negotiators should have been hired to meet with AMPTP.

2. The same people that told you to "trust the leadership" and basically do nothing were working the phones themselves.

3. AMPTP may be the adversary, but the primary problem was the NegCom. There was no plan for this strike anymore than there was one for the "America's Top Model" strike. A plan is nothing more than setting some goals and then working to achieve them consistent with some priority setting. The initial talking points proposal (i.e., the DVD proposal) was the first to get dumped. After Verrone declared publicly that reality would be covered in the next contract, it gets dumped in exchange for nothing.

Here's my point of view:

I DON'T TRUST THE LEADERSHIP. PERIOD.

I DON'T TRUST STRIKE CAPTAINS WHO HAVE ALREADY MADE A DECISION ON THE PROPOSED DEAL, YET ASK YOU TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND ABOUT IT.

Think about it. When someone says "I can't tell you about it because it's not final, but I'm voting for it," that makes no sense when they are saying that you shouldn't make a decision ON THE SAME INFORMATION.

The most startling thing about this strike has been the outright lying by guild leadership, and misinformation put forward by strike captains. There has been a lot more "spin" by guild members than AMPTP.

In the end, members' concerns for their own deals trumps attempting to obtain better circumstances for all. I could have predicted self-interest would prevail as it has in the past three strikes, and it will prevail in any future one that members are stupid enough to authorize.

We're all in this together - unless you criticize some of us.

Thanks for nothing, maggots. The only information that I want from you is how much the prodcos have pumped up your individual deals in order for you to champion this crappy contract.

Michael said...

j. writes:

"
A 17-day window? I really think that's going to be the thing we regret the most.

Because as a future AppleTV 2.0 owner, I believe that I'll just tell it the shows that I like at the beginning of the season and it will get every one of them for me. On the first day they are available, not the 18th day that its available. And then I can watch it any time I want."

So, in this AppleTV future, do you think the Companies should get *anything* for the upfront fees they pay for writers and other talent, or do you think *all* use of material in this context is re-use and thus subject to residuals?

Because honestly, I think your argument is exactly why a window *should* be permitted. We're used to re-use which falls into neat windows-- the DVD comes out three months after the movie, the network rerun is a month or two after the broadcast. Well, those timeframes are collapsing, thanks to the internet. So everyone's thinking about this issue has to adjust a little.

Just something else to keep in mind for the meeting.

just a thought said...

This is a really familiar story. Jesus comes to Jerusalem. Hail as the king and Saviour. After a week of money changers and holy men talking among themselves, they decide to have him scourged and crucified.
So the question is who is Jesus and who are the holy men and money changers in this story.
Fill in the blanks for yourselves

Joe said...

If the AMPTP was willing to have no Oscars, blow up the rest of this TV season, blow up the pilot season, blow up some production and develop of features for 2009 all to defend the 17 day window (and not reduce it or get rid of it), isn't it apparent that they know this 17 day window is a key to the vault that will generate billions of dollars for them?

They would not be defending it so fiercely if they didn't already know it was a virtual cash machine they did not want to share with us.

I just don't know why this is the right deal to take, when it's so obvious that they are protecting and apparently keeping one of the largest things we were striking for.

Hip Happenin' Hally said...

You do realize, don't you, that the AMPTP wants you to reject this deal? They've beaten you at every turn and brought the whole union to the point disintegration. If you vote the deal down, then they get to hire scabs. IOf anyone complains, they just say, "Hey, we tried to work it out with the WGA, and even got them a deal, but they're psychos and won't be reasonable."

You never had a chance to win this in the first place. I can't imagine anyone here still likes Verrone, but even his apologists have to admit he has bunged every stage of this operation. It is difficult to demand things from someone who doesn't need you as much as you need them. And when you do it as badly as Verrone does, you end up with what you now have.

just a thought said...

This is something to think about. If you truly want some leverage for your next strike, I suggest that you join a labor council. AFL-CIO or god forbid the teamsters. That will give you weight. Could you imagine no cooks in the commissary no one cleaning bathrooms. If you chose the teamsters, no limos no garbage pickup no van rides to location.
Is that too blue collar to think about.

Greg said...

Geez, Harold, it's almost like all those interim deals, and the Letterman deal, and the really smart decision to team up with SAG, and the picketing of the Golden Globes, resulting in NBC's cancellation of them--all smart decisions, all successes for the WGA--didn't happen. You clearly have emotional issues that are preventing you from analyzing this endgame in a rational manner, particularly given that you haven't seen the deal yet. Can I ask for your full name & credits so we can, in fact, confirm that you're a WGA member and not a studio troll? (Full disclosure: I am not a WGA member; I'm a playwright-- but I marched on the picket lines for four days when I was out in L.A. for a week.)

Frustrated Bystander said...

I don't believe there should be pressure on the membership to make a hasty decision. This may indeed be the best deal that is possible at this moment and that is something to be factored for serious consideration. SAG has their chance in June to up the deal and close that awful 17 day window. Maybe they can put DVD back on the table, since they never gave it up in the first place.

The "deadline" energy that seems to be present, however, I believe is counterproductive to a well informed and measured opinion. The informal hand count to decide on whether to keep striking or stop striking on Saturday does feel a bit rushed and unfair to the membership. I, myself, would feel resentful about that and would vote "no" on calling off the strike just because I would want time to evaluate the deal. But then I am not a Guild member, but my husband is. He's even cautious to call off the strike at this point without knowing what the terms of the deal are.

About that Pilot season, right now for a March shoot, about three weeks of pre-production has been used up. In one week, it seems there would be a point of no return for a March shoot. That is unfortunate. What is the point of no return for an April shoot? Maybe three weeks from now?
Or even four weeks from now? Can some March productions be pushed back to April?

I agree with Stuic that there is an intermediate time period that can be played during which the WGA membership can evaluate their true gut feelings and take in a measured analysis of the current deal on the table.

Give AMPTP a bone and waiver the Oscars, but remain on strike while the deal is being evaluated. The feeling tone to me, as an outsider, is if you call off the strike you are indicating that you are accepting this deal. If you remain on strike while evaluating this deal and the membership finally comes to the conclusion that this is not a "good enough deal," the pressure for the AMPTP to come to the table quickly and toss the last bones will be enormous. But then again, I'm an outsider looking in and this may be a misinformed impression.

Granted, I understand people wanting to get back to work to save their shows and people are losing their homes, so what is the best compromise for the WGA membership to have the time for evaluation while helping their fellow crew and colleagues rescue the shows they desperately want to get back to?

mheister said...

I hasten to remind everyone that SAG President Alan Rosenberg has already rejected pattern bargaining. From what little I have read and heard, moreover, SAG is in a militant mood (full disclosure: I'm a SAG member who's walked the lines with the WGA).

The de facto feature production SAG strike begins around March 1 if there's any suspicion the actors are walking when their contract is up.

That's a scant three weeks away. The WGA strike's been going for three months. If SAG doesn't think there's going to be a fair deal for the actors, the cavalry arrives, and Nick Counter knows it.

Hang tough my WGA brothers and sisters. If the deal isn't fair, you are under no obligation to accept it. Let the AMPTP leave the table yet again in a huff. Let them threaten to greenlight "Fear Factor: The Motion Picture". Remember you are helping them stay in business in the long haul by getting a better deal, because the better the deal the AMPTP offers, the more competitive they will be in retaining creative labor (that would be you) in a future market which promises potentially very lucrative options from a range of new companies that will be enticed by the ease of entry Internet distribution offers.

Remember all the small companies that sprang up seemingly out of nowhere when VHS became popular? That was just a warm-up for the Internet.

Bottom line (and I apologize for veering to multiple topics), the AMPTP needs you more than you need them, no matter what condition your mortgage is in.

William said...

Here's my theory. There are some who have become Stike Addicts. These are writers who have become addicted to walking on the picket line and have found a new sense of entitlement because of the social and political feeling it gives them. They want this strike to continue because they have become addicted to the emotion of the past three months, which has been grueling. No matter what the Negotiating committee comes up with it won't be good enough. They will call for the strike to continue because they need it to continue.

Personally, I think this is a small but very vocal minority of the membership. Hopefully, more level heads will prevail and writers like me who have trusted Patric and David and the rest of the "team" to get the best deal possible will win the day. The membership will vote and have their say, including the naysayers and those who won't be happy unless we get every single thing we had asked for in the beginning.

Let's give the leadership our support, but more important, let's give them credit for living these negotiations 24/7 and knowing when it's time to accept and go back to writing.

The sky is not falling...it's just a little cloudier than we had hoped for on the first day of the picnic.

Frustrated Bystander said...

I don't believe there should be pressure on the membership to make a hasty decision. This may indeed be the best deal that is possible at this moment and that is something to be factored for serious consideration. SAG has their chance in June to up the deal and close that awful 17 day window. Maybe they can put DVD back on the table, since they never gave it up in the first place.

The "deadline" energy that seems to be present, however, I believe is counterproductive to a well informed and measured opinion. The informal hand count to decide on whether to keep striking or stop striking on Saturday does feel a bit rushed and unfair to the membership. I, myself, would feel resentful about that and would vote "no" on calling off the strike just because I would want time to evaluate the deal. But then I am not a Guild member, but my husband is. He's even cautious to call off the strike at this point without knowing what the terms of the deal are.

About that Pilot season, right now for a March shoot, about three weeks of pre-production has been used up. In one week, it seems there would be a point of no return for a March shoot. That is unfortunate. What is the point of no return for an April shoot? Maybe three weeks from now?
Or even four weeks from now? Can some March productions be pushed back to April?

I agree with Stuic that there is an intermediate time period that can be played during which the WGA membership can evaluate their true gut feelings and take in a measured analysis of the current deal on the table.

Give AMPTP a bone and waiver the Oscars, but remain on strike while the deal is being evaluated. The feeling tone to me, as an outsider, is if you call off the strike you are indicating that you are accepting this deal. If you remain on strike while evaluating this deal and the membership finally comes to the conclusion that this is not a "good enough deal," the pressure for the AMPTP to come to the table quickly and toss the last bones will be enormous. But then again, I'm an outsider looking in and this may be a misinformed impression.

Granted, I understand people wanting to get back to work to save their shows and people are losing their homes, so what is the best compromise for the WGA membership to have the time for evaluation while helping their fellow crew and colleagues rescue the shows they desperately want to get back to?

nick the greek said...

In honor of those of us who spent months of the picket line with our fight, and with apologies to Victor Hugo and Delacoix, I created an epic strike painting that hopefully will inspire and prompt us to think about the concept of struggle, and that it's not over yet:

www.myspace.com/hauntedworlds

For my brothers I marched with at CBS, the name of the piece is "Tomorrow will discover what our God in heaven has in store. (Hugo)"

Skyfleur said...

This might be the first time, I actually did NOT like what I was reading on UH. I definitely dislike the veil threat :

"Keep in mind staying out 10 more days would hurt the rest of TV season, the Oscars, next year's pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate. This not only hurts the companies, it also hurts us, and the whole town."

A lot of us were on UH Live yesterday. And I'd rather have Eric Champnella write that piece than a pro deal person, cause as he said there were definitely pro and con people, not middle men in the strike captain meeting.
I'd rather had a piece saying : Take the time, read it carefully, think about it, than this piece.

I understand you're one of the people who seem happy about the deal. I understand the deal might actually be pretty good but you were supposed to relate unbiased what happened not get in your own personal opinion forcing other writers to accept the deal because you're tired of the strike.

As others said, it's not about this season, not about the feature 2009, it's about your future and the future of future writers. Even the little hint of bias and there's largely more than a hint in this post is plain wrong.

As somone who thinks of herself as a reasonable person, I never liked someone trying to shove something than my throat. Whether you realize it or not, your article feels that you want to shove it down everyone's throat. And you know what happens when this happens ? People balk. Plain and simple.

While you could have made such more emphasis on telling writers to show up to the meeting, while you could have made so much more emphasis on : take a step back, read the deal and think about it and ask questions.

This post is just plain wrong in so many respects...

I advise everyone to listen to yesterday's podcast of United Hollywood Live. While Champnella might sound like he's against the deal, he's more against the whole process of not having time to digest it and I'm hundred percent behind him on this. It's been a long strike, people have been hurt and this can't be dealt so swiftly. There was a reason for the strike and it should not become a fight for naught just because some of you guys want to rush it.

One thing : go to the meeting and don't be afraid to say you're against it. Don't let a few people decide for you. Go to the meeting, it will not be for nothing. Read the deal, think about it and then decide. Don't rush it.

Go to the meeting and don't listen to people telling you how great the deal is or bad it is. Decide for yourself without being influenced by others.

Go to the meeting, writers !

Captain Obvious said...

BTL Guy said:
"Okay conspiracy lovers, what's Verrone-n-Young's motivation for "selling" you a "bad deal?""

I'd imagine after all the feel-good "Hey look! We're actually human beings, too!" informal negotiations with the CEOs to loosen the WGA negotiators up, the AMPTP side of things then stepped back in and was like "Alright, here's your New Economic Partnership® Version 2.0, so you now have a choice: You can either take this, like it, and sell it to your membership; or we'll just put the New Economic Partnership® Version 1.0 back on the table and call it a day. Hope you liked that deal, 'cause if you keep this strike going you'll learn to love it once the crews and rogue writers force you to take it a couple months from now. Did you like the finger sandwiches? Get the fuck out of my sight, you need to brush up on your marketing skills and end this strike!" (followed by mocking laughter and sinister cackling)

...and I think this disheartened the WGA negotiators and made them truly believe this is the best deal they can get under such circumstances. It's sad, really.

So everyone just needs to evaluate this deal at face value. If it's not fair, then it's not worthy of even being called a "deal" -- it's more, as I said in the other thread, the terms of our surrender. I am forced to point out another option: Rather than surrender and gleefully accept a bad contract it may actually be better to continue to negotiate, even if the strike gets called off for awhile. There's much at stake here, and the issues are far too important for anyone to be rushing these crucial deliberation and decision-making processes.



Michael said:
"So, in this AppleTV future, do you think the Companies should get *anything* for the upfront fees they pay for writers and other talent, or do you think *all* use of material in this context is re-use and thus subject to residuals?"

I'd imagine what they're already getting is the majority share of the pie, after expenses. It seems fairly lucrative; considering their contribution to the final product is often little more than signing a check. The knee-jerk response to that would normally be "Well they assume quite a bit of risk, including losses for all the failed shows/movies" but let's not kid ourselves: Via Hollywood's notorious voodoo accounting I'm sure much of that is just smoke and mirrors; and with massive international conglomerates in the mix these days it's probably little more than a shell game. Where would you like to hide the billions today? Oops, that movie "lost" $200 million. Thank GOD I gave most of it to you, huh? (back-slapping good times ensue)

Chips Down said...

"Keep in mind staying out 10 more days would hurt the rest of TV season, the Oscars, next year's pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate. This not only hurts the companies, it also hurts us, and the whole town."

This is the big redd herring in what I see as an attempt to force people to vote in a particular way.

You should eb keeping in mind whether the deal is a good one or not, NOT what will supposedly happen if you vote against it.

Yes the Oscars would be at risk, but there is no reason the 2009 pilots are. It's an industry suggested guideline for pilots, they can select any date for the 2009 pilots, simply change the start date of the season.

The same goes for the current season, there is nothing that forces networks to start back at work by next week, next month, or 3 months from now, to start filming. They have shown flexibility through the strike and some networks are contemplating summer returns and new models for traditional seasons. Don't be fooled by these artificial deadlines.

rHob said...

You guys keep saying that this is for the future generations. Unfortunately, if you don't deal soon there will be no future in this business for any generation. I know that it is kind of different, but years back (Clinton years) my step-father worked for Kaiser Aluminum. They went out on strike....for 2 years. The plant shut down and they ended up getting 60 cents on the dollar of their retirement, paid by the government. So not only did they lose their jobs and devastated the whole town, but they lost 40% of their retirement. So maybe there is a lesson in there for you.

rHob

Carol said...

I would just like to urge all of you to seriously think about the 17 day promo window. As someone who has been creating original streaming content for the web since the year 2000, I can promise you that an overwhelming majority of the shows streamed will take place within a week of the original airing of the show on television. Allowing any kind of free window of time will mean rollbacks for every writer. Huge rollbacks. In my opinion, it renders the entire Internet streaming section of the contract completely useless.

I would strongly urge the leadership and board to request access to the networks stats packages showing exactly how many episodes are streamed and when before agreeing to any promo window. And I mean the raw data, not the stats the companies put together for their own purposes. Why would you agree to this when you have no idea how much you're giving up? I promise you the AMPTP knows the 17 day window is their key to victory. If a deal is ratified containing a promo window, the WGA will lose everything it went on strike for.

Hello said...

" Keep in mind staying out 10 more days would hurt the rest of TV season, the Oscars, next year's pilot season, and the 2009 feature slate. This not only hurts the companies, it also hurts us, and the whole town."

Wow, didn't realise AMPTP had started to write here.

(And aint it cool news moderated? You gotta be kidding!)

Frostfire 2112 said...

http://www.wga.org/contract_07/wga_tent_summary.pdf

People - the 17 day promotional window is still there.

As much as I want the strike to end, this is something that SAG is going to strike over in their own right, and we're going to be out there with them just like they were with us, so we may as well try to reap the benefits.

The note of the old timer talking about this of course doesn't get that we knew this already, and so does SAG.

The 17-day promotional window is unacceptable. And when SAG goes on strike, the pressure from Sacramento and Washington is going to increase on the AMPTP tenfold.

MadHatter said...

If the WGA membership chooses not to end this strike, and it certainly is your right to do so, then you should NOT grant the Oscars a waiver. To do so, would be telling all of the BTL crew that their plight is meaningless and your need to throw yourselves a great party paramount. The PR backlash would be astounding and the divide between the lines would widen so much that it would be tough to imagine having an industry left to come back to.

Harold said...

"Greg said...Geez, Harold, it's almost like all those interim deals, and the Letterman deal, and the really smart decision to team up with SAG, and the picketing of the Golden Globes, resulting in NBC's cancellation of them--all smart decisions, all successes for the WGA--didn't happen."

Well, the interim deals (including the Letterman deal) DID NOT happen, because they ALL revert to whatever AMPTP agrees upon. The interim deals were a meaningless WGA exercise that attempts to convey progress without actually making any. Come to L.A. and learn all about it. Your project is either moving (or provides the illusion of movement) or its dead. FYI, the interim agreements were a repeat of a similar mistake in 1988 that resulted in nothing except steadily removing members from picket lines.

SAG residuals are contractually 4 TIMES the amount of WGA residuals. WGA didn't team up with SAG anymore than it teamed up with IATSE, DGA, or any other union. SAG's residuals are connected to WGA's contract. It had a direct interest. It wasn't Verrone being competent for a moment.

The AMPTP clearly won this strike. Remember all the talk about 4 cents on a DVD and how awful that was? Guess how much writers will be getting in this contract? Remember the low fixed amount that the DGA gets for streaming? Guess how much it is in this contract? (And yeah, fixed amounts are involved). Remember the 17-day window? I hope everyone liked it.

WGA: 0 for 3 in strikes.

Let that sink in. The effort of this strike was wasted. Instead of the DGA deal, members are getting the DGA deal with a pickle on the side.

Harold said...

"Frostfire 2112 said...People - the 17 day promotional window is still there."

Did you notice that the DVD residual isn't? Why would that be?

BECAUSE IT HASN'T CHANGED.

There you go for all of those who thought that when the the NegCom gave up the DVD proposal for nothing and Verrone later claimed that all bets are off meant that it was back on a table.

I TOLD YOU.

Who is laughing now?

AMPTP.

Another Verrone mistake. another Verrone lie in an attempt to make up for it. Another Verrone failure. Another AMPTP success.

Now all of you be good members and vote for the proposed deal, because the NegCom is calling off the strike regardless of what you think. They all have deals that they want to move forward. There will not be overwhelming opposition to the proposed deal. They know that. That's why they're putting on the show.

And they will be proven correct.

What a shitty union this is.

stuiec said...

william: "Here's my theory. There are some who have become Stike Addicts. These are writers who have become addicted to walking on the picket line and have found a new sense of entitlement because of the social and political feeling it gives them. They want this strike to continue because they have become addicted to the emotion of the past three months, which has been grueling. No matter what the Negotiating committee comes up with it won't be good enough. They will call for the strike to continue because they need it to continue."

If you're right -- and I am not saying that you are -- then what you are describing is a misdirection of a very healthy addiction: an addiction to the labor movement. The people who have that particular addiction can continue to feed it even after the strike is settled, by creating more labor awareness within the WGA itself and by building the solidarity of the labor movement among entertainment industry guilds and unions. That's a much more satisfying way to chase that particular dragon -- and the paradox is that the resultant increase in labor's solidarity and power may make future strikes less likely.

stuiec said...

just a thought: "Is that too blue collar to think about."

Well, it would be interesting if the WGA became a Teamsters local, and then the Teamsters claimed the absolute right not to cross a Teamsters picket line. It's not a sympathy strike, is it, when you're honoring your own union's picket lines?

rHob said...

As one post already stated....a few days ago. You are already getting your $40,000 up front, so the streaming window is the equivalent to the first airing...you don't get paid the night of the first airing, you were already paid for that. I hate to tell you, but for the next 2 or 3 years, "Most" people are not going to set up their computers and go out and buy 50 terabytes of storage and go home and burn DVDs all night long of their favorite shows. You guys live in the world of writers and the Hollywood types that may actually do that, but go outside of your little click and you are going to find that Joe the farmer from Nebraska or Nancy the Nurse is from Oshkosh is not going to do that....most of them don't know how and aren't going to spend the money converting from watching on their tv to watching on their computer over the internet...at least not for a few years.

rHob

People please... said...

Harold,

You really need to chill out. I'm guessing you didn't go to the meeting tonight and listen to the deal. I'm guessing you stayed at home and screamed little pissy rants at your cat.

Our leadership did the job they set out to do, GET US A FAIR DEAL. They actualy did more than that and got us a good deal. One that made all those days on the picket line worth it.

Harold said...

"People please... said...Our leadership did the job they set out to do, GET US A FAIR DEAL. They actualy did more than that and got us a good deal. One that made all those days on the picket line worth it."

I accept that the proposed deal will be the current deal, but enough with the "great leadership" B.S.

All I ask is that morons such as yourself not authorize another strike. EVER.

I don't want to be handed your turds anymore and be told its pumpkin pie.

Take comfort that I'm voting for your sh!tty deal. I'm not voting for another sh!tty strike. You goddamn leadership groupies had your f*cking strike.

Never again.

Now just shut the f*ck up, you f*cking jackass.

This won't be posted, but writing it served its purpose for me.

Goodbye, losers. I'm first to fi-core if you pull this stupid sh!t again. I don't really give a f*ck about this union anymore.