Getting Ready for Saturday Night

The WGAw's general membership meeting will be held at the Shrine Auditoriumat at 7pm (NOT 6:30pm as we reported earlier) on Saturday night.

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As of Thursday afternoon, we are all still waiting on specific contract language. Lawyer and blogger Jonathan Handel has pulled together media reports of alleged WGA deal points on his Digital Media Law blog. But none of the rumors or media reports mean much. If it's not in the contract language, it's not real.

We've been emphasizing all week that a strong showing on the picket lines would give the WGA's lawyers and negotiators the maximum leverage to make sure the contract language is in keeping with what the companies pledged during informal talks. And the numbers this week have been great. WGA staff estimate that over 1500 turned out for today's mass picket at Disney.

But there's another bit of leverage at the WGA negotiators' disposal: the possibility of writers all going back to work quickly. For that reason, the prospect of ending the strike quickly is very valuable. If the contract language isn’t finished in good faith, that possibility would be destroyed.

As we wrote here earlier today, the WGA constitution lays out a few timelines for when the strike could be called off. One permissible timeline would have a ratification vote completed by Wednesday.

In light of that option, many members have contacted U.H. privately or posted comments stating the importance of having time to digest the deal points and make up their minds in a responsible way. Keenly aware that there are pilots, tv shows, movies, jobs and a popular ceremony hanging in the balance, they are not asking for weeks, but rather days. When weighed against the three-year life of this contract (or possibly twenty-year life, if DVDs are any indication) 72 hours seems a very reasonable request.

WGA presidents Patric Verrone and Michael Winship have stated that no action will be taken until some consensus emerges among the membership. We have faith that they will do that. When they say they will let the membership decide, we take them at their word.

Should it become clear on Saturday night that the memberships in New York and LA need a day or two to digest the deal points, we think they will respect that. Likewise, if it's clear that the majority of members strongly supports the contract, we could be back at work on Monday.

The WGA is a democratic union. We argue, we criticize, we make one another crazy. But during this strike, we have stood together with unprecedented and historic unity. We can make it a few more days if necessary.

No one inside or outside the union has forced us into anything, and that won't change now.


Jessica said...

Is this true? It was posted on the CNBC website about 8 hours ago (3pmPT/6pmET). Then someone posted the link to it on DIGG about two hours ago. But I see nothing about it on here; the most recent post was put up about 20 minutes ago, and this is the only place I trust to get the REAL news about the strike...


TTTrouble said...

Isn't this in violation of the news blackout or am I missing something?


Jessica said...

Oh no, I totally didn't think it was true. There's no media violation...the blackout is still in effect.

I know by now how the moguls spread these rumors to get everyone's hopes up and that the media doesn't do any fact-checking. I'd never believe anything until I read it here first. Check out Nikki Finke's blog (http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/) and this site (last paragraph) http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/ny-etstrike0208,0,5180930.story for the REAL news on the strike.

LIke I said, I wasn't suggesting that there was a violation...just one person seeing an article and running away with it...people who don't know any better believing the first thing they see and posting it on a website w/out looking for any other facts. I'm sorry if I made it sound otherwise...I should have used a different title. I just freaked when I saw it and couldn't believe how ridiculous it was. Sorry!!!

jimmy said...

Michael Eisner is completely uninvolved and irrelevant to the strike.

And apparently during the years he dealth with the WGA as the head of Disney, he had no idea that a strike is not ended by the people being struck, but the ones who actually took the labor action.

It is apparently true that Eisner said what he said.

But what Eisner said is not true.

The Executive Board and the membership of the WGA, and only they, decide if the strike is over.

AnthonyDe said...

I know it's tough to speculate as we don't know the proposed deal but I don't think it could hurt to talk about what we would not want to see.

1) Flat fee vs 2%. For the life of me I don't even understand why 2.5% was asked for when the WGGB apparently got 5.6% as early as 2003! http://www.4rfv.co.uk/industrynews.asp?id=344 So I'm thinking a tiered system might actually be better provided there is no ceiling. And if it goes to 2% in the third year there should be a provision that states 2% unless higher under the tiered system.

2) 7 days promo period. I think this is based on the tv broadcast model. No way it can work for made for web content, just look at Quarterlife, that airs Sun and Thurs. This has to be a flexible number based upon how often content is uploaded.

3) Obviously the leadership wouldn't bring the deal to the membership if they thought they could do better. The right deal might not be the best deal that can be reasonable negotiated. If I go buy a car for $25,000 and the best the dealer can do is $30,000, can respect that but if I can't find another 5Gs I have no choice but to walk away from the deal.

I think on either point fairly negotiated is not a win. I'd like to see a win on either of these points.

THE DON said...

I came,
I looked,
I loved what I saw.
Keep up the good work.
P.S. Please drop a comment on my blog.
Thanks, all welcome

nick the greek said...

With my apologies to Eugene Delacoix and Victor Hugo, I adapted an epic painting in honor of the importance of Saturday's meeting and the struggle of the strike. Hope you enjoy it.


Becca said...

I read nothing in that artcile that suggested that "the strike is over". There is nothing on wga.org that suggests that either. All Eisner said is that the nets, studios and nego leaders have agreed on some terms. My local news is also stating the strike is over.

Go back and read what UH posted. Then keep checking back at wga.org to get the official word.

Unknown said...

Check out the "Picketing Locations and Schedule" at the WGA Web page (http://www.wga.org/subpage_member.aspx?id=2536): There's only one future
picket scheduled, today at NBC.

Are you fucking kidding me? All future picketing has been suspended? Is the strike over? And without a membership vote? We still haven't seen the fucking contract!

But unless the Board has already decided to call off the strike -- in which case the membership meeting tomorrow is a sham -- next week's pickets should be listed too! Which they're not.


VDOVault said...

What 'Gavin Polone' fails to realize is that the picketing schedules are not necessarily posted days in advance. In fact speaking from my knowledge of how the WGA East works (and hey I'm just a fan who has tried to coordinate multiple food deliveries to the NYC lines remotely from my home in Virginia so it's not like I have huge insight into the 'secret inner workings' of a guild branch), the picket schedules for NYC are typically set on Fridays and then posted to wgaeast.org sometime over the weekend. So it's not all that big a deal to go into a weekend without a set picket schedule even when there are no breathless media announcements that 'a deal is imminent or done already'

And for the record and for Gavin's edification, the WGAE is having their big rally and picketing today from 12 noon to 2pm...perhaps you should have looked here

or here

several days ago to have figured out that the WGA picketing and rallying has not in fact stopped.

Besides I get the feeling that if the WGAW (or for that matter the WGAE) did post picketing schedules far in advance dear Gavin would be here bashing the WGA for revealing too many of their future plans to the outside world (including the moguls) so that the WGA's picketing could be 'interfered with' or 'controlled by' the moguls. You all know that according to Gavin 'the moguls are all powerful and are going to win anyway so you WGA writers ought to just give in to the moguls because resistance to the Borg is, er, futile, except of course when it's not, which is sort of what has happened since November 5th...but hey the AMPTP is the big winner here. Seriously'.

Since there's just no pleasing people like Gavin it's been pretty easy for us outsiders to ignore him. But I am giggling with glee that apparently I understand something *better* than 'famed industry insider Gavin Polone' who for goodness sakes gets to go on Fox News and it's probably because I understand how to look things up on the Internet better than dear 'super-connected, more knowledgable than you peon TV viewers insider' Gavin can.

The mind boggles and the mouth grins idiotically at such a revelation.

Just like Gavin has failed to realize that there's like a whole other part of the country where TV and film writers live, work, rally and strike. Like today for instance.

Laughing myself silly at Gavin's ironic ignorance.

Go Teams WGAE and WGAW!

S.E. Olson
Moderator & Law & Order Criminal Intent Fan Liason

Unknown said...

I used to be in sales. Lesson One in trying to shove a deal down a buyer's throat is CREATE A FALSE SENSE OF URGENCY. Sure feels like this is exactly what's going on. Where are the deal points, AMPTP? Why aren't we pushing back this Saturday meeting? Are we getting played -- again?

If the Board of Directors calls off this strike on Sunday without a full membership vote, without time for meaningful discussion and reflection on the deal points, we should all feel BETRAYED by our union leaders.

Tanja Barnes said...

Consider that yesterday was a huge ass picketing event at Eisner's old stomping ground at Disney Studios in Burbank. So, the timing of this so-called "news" is questionable. I believe it was a vindictive measure on Eisner's part to take aim at the writers and he used his buddies -- the media conglomerates that control the flow of news and information -- to do it.

Alicia said...

This strike has made more for writers than the deal you are fighting for. It has called our atention to those who create the characters, the words. We recall the name of the actors, directors, but, how many of us know who wrote the lines we hear? I`ve come to believe that this lack of "presence" has something to do with the lack of...appreciation. So, to keep the attention, what if you creat a show like "inside the actors studio"? Less ego and more work, a host that knows words and guests that want to talk about their work. Not just screen, series writers. Drama, literary ones. In a Drama school. We´ve read how much they have to say (why we write essays) let`s hear and see them. Let`s get to know them. Help them take the position they deserve, they are, after all, the source where all begins. "What if..?"

Unknown said...

I saw Eisner on Fast Money when he said this - he said they shook hands on the deal - that is what you do at the end of a successful neg session and then he expressed his personal opinion thar writers would be insane not to accept it.

C'mon guys, E stepped down - under pressure - from Disney - what? two years ago? He was running his mouth cause he has no real power. The only thing I know of that he does is that lame CNBC interview show that doesn't even have a regularly scheduled time slot.

Don't be so easily spooked.

Gary Watts said...

Quote of the Day

Even a blind man knows
B.S. when he smells it.

~ Gary Watts ~

TTTrouble said...

Oh, sorry. I guess I assumed Eisner played some part in the negotiations. Not your fault by any means Jessica.(I actually saw it on digg first and then checked here and noticed the lack of big flashy IT'S OVER headings) Anyhow, I do find it quite shady how the announcements are being made by the media.
An ended strike means a higher stock price =|.

SLH said...

I don't have a stake in Saturday's outcome, but I believe WGA members deserve a decent contract, and anything close to the DGA contract numbers for streaming residuals would be disastrous for writers and beneficial for studio execs. (It's going to hurt DGA members too--their leaders apparently don't know it yet).

The main question is this: Is it possible right now to determine with reasonable certainty if a compromise deal (like the rumored "first flat fee then percentage" numbers) will be a good deal for the next three years, and a good model to build from in the next negotiation?

I think the major studios know where they want to go and how to get there, and they'll operate ruthlessly to achieve their goals. At least they have in the past and are doing so now.

But without knowing for sure where the congloms are heading, guild leaders and members can only guess whether an offering from the AMPTP is a reasonable compromise or a disaster in the making (like the previously negotiated DVD formula).

Reading between the lines of the AMPTP's statements and actions, it looks as though one of their goals is the radical restructuring of television distribution (and to a lesser extent film distribution), and they seem to believe that in order to do so, they must commoditize writing (and directing and acting) the way Wal-Mart handles its workforce--cheap, powerless, interchangeable labor (remember the studio exec's comment early in the strike about hiring UCLA students as screenwriters?).

If the guild accepts a bad deal, they'll be acceding to the AMPTP's master plan. But if they refuse to deal, their response will be used by the AMPTP to call in the strikebreakers ASAP. And refusing to deal at all may lose the vital support of SAG members.

So some sort of compromise (not necessarily now, and not necessarily based on Saturday's proposal) will be necessary. In my uninformed opinion, the only to avoid a Greek tragedy ending is for writers to (1) acknowledge the limits of their understanding (as opposed to the DGA, who sold their birthright because they believed their year of research was infallible), (2) make the best possible choice, with the awareness that this choice may prove to be wrong, (3) trust their leadership to negotiate properly from this choice, (4) get informed and stay vigilant during the contract period, and (5) stick together.

Geo Rule said...

Re Eisner: An ex-bigshot pretending he's still a current bigshot. Yawn.

Tho, to show my age, I keep hearing Bay City Rollers in my head. . . "Saturday NIIIGHT".

Apologies in advance to any and all who will now find themselves humming 70's teeny-bopper rock the rest of the day. :)

gwangung said...

Just an observation here.

I'd refer back to the Negotiation 101 thread. There are all sorts of tools and tactics available here that people don't see to realize the use for. Because a tool is available doesn't mean it will be used. Because an option is available to be used as a carrot doesn't mean it WILL be used frivolously.

Dani Payson said...

I'm really sick of the press reporting the strike is over when it's not. I'm hearing it from all sides. Friends, family "the strike is over" then I come here and see that it is not.

I appreciate the fact that this site keeps me updated with the truth so I know what the heck is really going on.

WGA Writer said...

I just had lunch with my strike captain who came straight from the WGA Strike Captain’s meeting this afternoon at the WGA.

Now, I’m waiting to read the actual contract language, like everyone else. And I want to reserve judgment until we’ve all had a chance to digest it. But here’s the rub:

We’re not being given a chance to digest the deal... IT IS BEING RAMMED DOWN OUR THROATS. My strike captain told me that during tomorrow’s meeting, there may be a voice or hand vote of the assembled membership on whether to accept the deal…


The proponents of the deal are using speed as a tactic to silence dissent. How can any meaningful discussion take place in such a short window?

The proponents of the deal have had weeks and weeks to comb through all the fine points, while the rank and file have been completely in the dark during the media blackout. Now we’re being given less than 24 hours to read and digest a deal that will determine all of our futures for years – if not decades – to come?

I urge the WGA Board to give the membership time to discuss the contract among ourselves – not just in the meeting tomorrow – but over the coming days. We MUST HAVE TIME for meaningful discourse.

Of course, the proponents won’t want that – they’re already out spinning how the “strike is over” and the media echo chamber is spreading that lie. And the proponents don’t want to give any time for opponents of the deal to emerge and organize.


We need a chance to talk to each other and read the analyses of outside, impartial experts. (Some very smart people will be dissecting the deal as soon as it is published, and this will only take a few days at most.)

Why can’t we simply trust the “recommendation” of our elected negotiators?

Because of a shocking fact:


Our negotiators (for whom I have tremendous respect and admiration) have been blackmailed into silent assent by the moguls. They cannot speak out against the deal, or it will be pulled from the table.

Now, I don’t want to prolong the strike, but the deal I read about in the New York Times this morning, and which my strike captain relayed to me at lunch today, seems SHOCKINGLY BAD FOR THE WGA!

I’m hoping that the fine print assuages my major concern:

The precedent of getting “distributor’s gross” is exciting, but it becomes MEANINGLESS if a low residual cap is also given precedent. Who cares what percentage we get, if it’s capped off at $1,200 or even $2400? This is a rate far, far worse than even the reviled DVD formula. At least in that case, the writer gets a per unit residual. A capped download residual is essentially a “buyout.” This is the massive rollback we all feared, no matter what positive spin the put on it.

Maybe there is contract language that will prove the NY Times and my strike captain wrong. God, I hope so. But here it is almost 4pm, the day before the meeting where we’re all supposed to vote on it, and I still haven’t gotten the contract.

I beg, BEG the WGA Board to give us time to analyze the deal before the strike is lifted. This is the most important decision the WGA membership will make for decades.

Chris S said...

It's as irresponsible to suggest the membership reject a vote tomorrow night as it is to suggest the membership simply accept what is given to them.

The simple fact is, time is of the essence.

And a little faith in the the leadership is not surrender. They are the ones we've trusted to take us this far.

Open minds.

Unknown said...

tanja -

"media conglomerates that control the flow of news and information"

Are you kidding me?

He said this on CNBC's Fast Money which has a viewership of about 220,000 plus you're a blogger - you know how easily information gets out on the blogs - all kinds of favorable WGA commentary is posted on HuffPo every day plus, don't forget, St. Nik -

if we say we have no power then we are demeaning ourselves.

Unknown said...

The deal summary finally arrived at 2:50 a.m. Saturday morning, only 16 hours before the membership meeting. Remember how the big fear was that we wouldn't have enough time to digest it?

I only needed two minutes to decide there's no way in hell I'm ratifying it.

The "download sales" (EST) rate maxes out at 0.7 percent? How is that better than the screwing we get on home video?

The no-residuals "promotional" window is a minimum of 17 days? It's only seven on cable!

Worst of all: New media residuals in the third year of the contract -- when we're supposed to be getting a percentage of distributor's gross -- are capped? At $400 (for half-hours) and $800 (one-hours) every six months?

I did what I was supposed to. Marched every day for three months, trusted my leaders, kept an open mind. And I didn't do all that for this.

Most amazingly, I've watched my language until now, but under the circumstances...

Fuck that.

There doesn't need to be a 2008-2009 TV season if this is all they're offering.