"Brothers and Sisters": the Guilds are United

The last day of official picketing ended with a high point at Fox.

Writers were joined on the picket line by many supporters. The honking at the Pico gate reached new decibel levels as crowds of picketers filled the sidewalk and waved their signs at the passing traffic.

The signs told the story: "WGA-DGA-SAG", "The House is Not Divided," "DGA-WGA Member," "Union Solidarity".

The appearance of so many SAG and DGA members made the point that even though the AMPTP spin machine works hard to create the impression that there is dissension between the unions and in the ranks of the WGA, the opposite is true.

Of course the strike has created tensions. How could it not?

There should be tensions when so much is at stake and so much has been sacrificed in the fight with the congloms. But our common interests outweigh that tension, and our solidarity is real.

The DGA Negotiations Committee Chair, Gil Cates made clear today the seriousness with which the DGA leadership regards the economic issues that forced the strike.

"We have spent 18 months...researching what the new models will be, what electronic sell-through is going to be, how long the DVD market will stay on its current plateau and when it will go away altogether."

The good news is the DGA and WGA will share their research. Unions must pursue the separate interests of their members, but there are times -- like now -- when collaboration protects everyone.

Today Patric Verrone announced new efforts to pressure the AMPTP to come back to the negotiations, hoping that Nicholas Counter will finally sit down and negotiate in good faith. Having walked away without ever presenting a complete and detailed economic proposal, the AMPTP has been vocal about preferring to negotiate with the DGA.

What sense does that make?

Only the DGA leadership and members of their Negotiating Committee know what the DGA wants. Does the AMPTP assume the DGA will accept the offer the congloms presented to the WGA?

Benefit rollbacks, no compensation for reuse in the digital platforms, defining rebroadcast as "promotional" so that the value of the program is diminished, offering a one-time nominal payment (the infamous $250) when an episode of a popular program like Lost appears on the network's website...

Will that sound good to the DGA?

And, importantly, do the congloms believe that if the DGA concludes negotiations that the strike will end?

The DGA will negotiate the best deal for their membership. But a settlement with the directors doesn't end the strike.

The AMPTP still has to conclude a deal with the WGA.

From the beginning of the strike, Nicholas Counter has been quoted repeatedly that he'd rather talk with the directors. Clearly he thinks the AMPTP and the DGA speak the same language. But hopefully we've learned by now: just because Nick Counter says so, doesn't make it true.

At Fox today the people who walked the picket line showed that they do speak the same language. Writers, writer-directors, directors, actors, Teamsters, SEIU members, friends, fans, and supporters from all across Los Angeles made clear their unity and support for a fair deal.

Now all we need is for the AMPTP to listen to what they are saying: come back to the table and negotiate in good faith. Make a fair deal so we can all go back to work.


Unknown said...

The fact that the DGA and the WGA are united will help with whatever negotiations go down in January, especially since Nick Counter seems willing to negotiate with the DGA. Like this Blog points out, just because the DGA has a better shot at making a deal doesn't necessarily mean that one will come easily to the WGA if the DGA and the AMPTP come to an agreement, or that the DGA will negotiation on both their behalf and the WGA's. But, it does show the solidarity that's required to withstand all this for a long period of time.

Unknown said...

Are the writers not picketing for the next couple of weeks or so so that they can be with their families for the holidays?

Must be nice. I lost my job because of the strike and cannot afford to go home to see my family. I'll let you all know how it is to be all alone for the holidays for the first time in your life.

Unknown said...

Um... go to work? I have a job and I still don't get to see my family over the holidays. I'm sure a lot of writers can't either. But what, pray tell, would be the point of picketing at CLOSED studios?

puworgine said...

It is a great accomplishment to stay united during times of financial hardship. Much respect to DGA, SAG and WGA for sticking together.

Unknown said...

Willow: Sorry that you can't go home for the holidays. I was saving the meager amount of money I was making as a PA to see my family on the other side of the country because Christmas is a large celebration in my family. There will still be people at the studios until the end of the week and there will be people there between Christmas and New Years. It just seems like a sorry excuse to not have to walk the picket lines.

Carrie V said...

Even a striking worker needs a break. From past experience, I can say that being on a picket line is quite exhausting. In addition, the chance to relax and celebrate the holidays gives the writers a chance to rejuvenate so come the New Year the strike can continue just as forcefully.

So, yes some people will still be at the studios, but the two weeks around Christmas and New Years is traditionally the dead time in Hollywood. What productions are there to picket?

Happy Holidays everyone and here's hoping the New Year brings a strike to an end that is a fair deal for WGA.

tv writer said...

Dear Go to Work-- I'm so sorry you won't be able to be with your family for the holidays. I was in your shoes when I was a young writer starting out -- no money, crummy jobs. I missed a few holidays myself. I assume you're a PA as a way to break into "the business." Maybe you eventually want to write or direct. If so, this strike is very much about you. I'm a mid-career TV writer. If this strike settled tomorrow, and the WGA got everything it's asking for, I would STILL NEVER MAKE BACK THE MONEY I'VE ALREADY LOST. A young writer who joins the guild ten years from now will benefit from this strike, but I won't. Throughout my career, I have benefitted greatly from WGA members in the past who sacrificed so that I have the benefits and fair wages I enjoy. That's the way it works. So my holiday wish for you is that you someday find the career you love and that you benefit financially and creatively because of what I and all the other WGA members are sacrificing today.

Happy Holidays

Unknown said...

As the wife of an IATSE member, let me give "Carrie" a hearty bwahahahaaaaaa. I am sure you find "being on the picket line quite exhausting".
I just hope that Tom Short is wrong. I hope the WGA didnt plan on striking and actually pre-negotiated like the DGA is doing. If I lose my house I want to know who to blame and I am no longer so convinced I need to blame the AMPTP.

For all the below the line workers who actually work in the craft they pay dues to ( unlike the majority of WGA members), I hope your union closes the deal very soon. We will never make back the money we lost on this strike in our pensions and perhaps in our health bennies.