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Thread: WGA Strike & all related issues

  1. #81
    Shark Week! dagwood's Avatar
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    Well, crap. They quit talking

    Comcast.net Entertainment - Hollywood Writers Strike Hits 5th Week

    Hollywood Writers Strike Hits 5th Week

    By LYNN ELBER, AP

    A few days ago, hopes were high that a deal to end a costly five-week strike by thousands of Hollywood writers was imminent. But optimism that writers and producers would soon sign a new pact all but crumbled Friday, as talks broke down and the sides blamed each other for the stalled negotiations that have sidelined many prime-time and late-night TV shows.

    "We're puzzled and disheartened by an ongoing WGA (Writers Guild of America) negotiating strategy that seems designed to delay or derail talks rather than facilitate an end to this strike," the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said in a statement.

    In response, the guild said the chief alliance negotiator, Nick Counter, slammed the door on bargaining after presenting an ultimatum and before the union could respond to his latest proposal regarding crucial new-media compensation issues.

    "As we prepared our counteroffer, at 6:05 p.m., Nick Counter came and said to us, in the mediator's presence, 'We are leaving. When you write us a letter saying you will take all these items off the table, we will reschedule negotiations with you,'" according to a union statement.

    A detailed alliance announcement on the talks' collapse was released a short time later. Counter was unavailable Friday night for comment, the alliance said.

    A letter the guild said it received from Counter said negotiations could resume only after the guild removed a half-dozen demands.

    The guild said it remained "ready and willing to negotiate, no matter how intransigent our bargaining partners are, because the stakes are simply too high."

    "If someone called tomorrow and said let's start on Sunday and we want to hear your counterproposal, I'd say great," chief guild negotiator David Young told The Associated Press.

    The writers guild represents 12,000 members but not all are on strike, with about 2,000 or so news writers and others covered under a separate contract.

    Just two days ago, the sides had expressed their first hint of optimism. But on Friday, it appeared that the industry's first walkout in 20 years was far from being resolved.

    The entertainment industry contributes an estimated $30 billion a year to the Los Angeles economy, or about $80 million a day.

    The alliance reiterated its position Friday that its latest offer aimed at settling a central contract issue _ compensation for the Internet and other digital media _ makes it "possible to find common ground."

    Last week, the studios had proposed a flat $250 payment for a year's use of an hourlong TV show on the Web. That contrasts with the $20,000-plus residual that writers now earn for a single network rerun of a TV episode.

    Friday night, the guild said producers were holding to their $250 offer and demanding that writers give up on proposals including unionization of animation and reality and, "most crucially, any proposal that uses distributor's gross as a basis for residuals."

    As word of the breakdown spread, some writers expressed frustration.

    "It's disheartening that a month into this, I'm not getting the overwhelming sense that we're getting any closer to a settlement," said Robert Port, a writer for the CBS series "Numb3rs." "I hope we can continue to negotiate and wrap this thing up."

    Earlier Friday, in a letter sent to its members and released publicly, the guild said that "highly placed executives" have told some writers that the companies are preparing to abruptly end the talks by accusing the guild of an unwillingness to bargain.

    The letter said any such anti-union claims are "absolutely untrue" and challenged studios to negotiate "day and night, through the Christmas and New Year's holidays" to reach a settlement.

  2. #82
    FORT Fogey Tigerusty's Avatar
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    I found this letter to be informative

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007
    A Reality Writer Responds to the AMPTP


    This letter was submitted anonymously by a working reality writer. He/She requires anonymity, because otherwise, he/she fears being fired for writing this.

    Dear AMPTP,

    Today, I read on your website, “thousands of people in reality and animation have chosen not to join the WGA.”
    This statement is false.

    As a writer (aka "Supervising Producer", the name I'm given to get around having to give me a WGA contract) who has worked in reality television for over three years and who knows many people on the reality circuit, I can tell you that reality writers desperately want to be part of the WGA.

    Why wouldn’t reality writers choose to join the guild? Because we don’t want health insurance? I can assure you, we want health insurance. You think we don’t want to join the guild because we do not want to be paid for overtime? You think we enjoy working 70-80 hour weeks and being paid for 40?

    We are good, smart, hard working people who don’t like knowing our employer is breaking California (and other) labor laws. Our salaries are cut in half because in many cases we work twice as many hours as we are paid. We want to be paid for overtime.

    We cannot join the guild until we meet the qualifications of the WGA and that means being called a “writer.” Because of this, you refuse to call us “writers.” You give us many other titles like "segment producer," "consultant," anything that does not have “writer” in the title. Yet, that’s what we do in reality television. We write.

    We write and create storylines, develop characters, character arcs, structure scenes, write entire series plotlines before and after the show is filmed, write host copy, write dialogue (yes it’s true!), write questions, write narration -- the list goes on and on and on.

    You know that what we're doing is writing. That's why you hire writers to do it. This name game is just that -- a game. It's a game to avoid paying pension or health benefits, to avoid paying overtime, to exploit writers. If we speak up, tough, we get fired. If we get sick, tough, we pay the bills ourselves, and if we take too much time off, we get fired.

    Reality writers want to join the WGA. I challenge you to find one overworked, underpaid reality writer who wouldn’t want to join the guild right now and receive the same just and fair benefits given to other members of the entertainment unions like IATSE, SAG, WGA, and DGA.

    I write this on behalf of all my friends and colleagues who are currently working seven days a week to get a show out for a big network -- but are not getting paid for the weekends. Or the overtime. Who aren't receiving health benefits. Or... you get the picture.

    I can't sign my name, because there is a very real threat my employers will fire me. But I can still call myself what I am: A writer.


    United Hollywood: A Reality Writer Responds to the AMPTP
    "So, what is fame? It's lightening that strikes some people. It's lightening that some people seek." Jewel

  3. #83
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    WOW...very interesting letter Tigerusty.....by reading all those points, I would say that they should be allowed to join the WGA......
    Reality is the beginning...not the end....Wallace Stevens

  4. #84
    FORT Fogey skyhigh79's Avatar
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    Thanks TigerR. I'm a union member(IAM) although I'm not fond of that particular union. It seems to me that maybe if some of the guilds would unite, there would be greater leverage. If SAG/AFTRA/WGA/DGA merged, just think of the power they would have, plus the membership would be saving money. As it stands now, many people have to belong to more than one guild and end up paying lots of money to dues as a result.

    What the guild should do is put some teeth into their contracts that says title isn't important, but rather go off of job description. If you write any script/lines/promos, anything used on air, you qualify as a writer. My sympathies to the reality writers!
    Tahoe bound....

  5. #85
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    I'm reminded of the air traffic controllers who all lost their jobs when they struck in the early 80s and the Northwest Airlines mechanics (I think it was the mechanics union) that were all replaced and ended up negotiating a settlement that provided them with severance only (but all the jobs were lost, because the replacements kept the jobs). It's interesting to read the reality writer's letter too. Who know how this will end up. I don't even miss the scripted shows as much, as I like reality shows, but the late night tv is what I miss the most.
    Help fight cystic fibrosis or just learn more about it at the cystic fibrosis foundation website, www.cff.org and help give my little guy a better future.

  6. #86
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    I heard an interesting analysis of the ability of each side to hold out on this particular strike not too long ago. The biggest point was that most writers don't work on a regular wage. Instead, they go through high points when they sell a script, and then long dry periods when they aren't selling anything. As a result, financially they are more able to hold out for longer than striking workers typically can. Unlike an airline mechanic or auto worker who is used to a regular pay check, they're already disciplined to a life without that.

    The analysis I heard also put a big question mark on the networks ability to pony up more cash. The point was made that several of the networks have given up large sums of cash in recent years for sports contracts. They've also seen declining revenues in some areas as ratings have gone down. Those factors, combined the pressures from Wall Street to show a profit after some of the media mergers and shifts that have effected them could leave them with less wiggle room to give money up than it seems on the surface.

  7. #87
    FORT Fogey skyhigh79's Avatar
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    Awww, poor network execs. Maybe they'll have to cut out some of their perks. The disparity in pay between top and bottom is just too large. Compensate the writers, for without them there is no entertainment (outside of reality
    Tahoe bound....

  8. #88
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    Assuming the strike doesn't end any time soon, as seems likely, does anyone know when the "new" shows will show...that is, those scripted shows that still have a few shows in the can, or that were meant to be midseason replacements like Jericho and are hopefully all filmed? If so could we post a detailed list? I'll be off TV for part of Jan.--need to set my VCR in December!

  9. #89
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    There's an excellent (though not 100% accurate all the time) sheet I've been using..

    the futon critic - the web's best primetime television resource It tells how many episodes are left and when the next episode is airing. It includes almost all tv shows.

  10. #90
    PWS
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    Re: WGA Strike & all related issues

    Quote Originally Posted by canadian_angel;2723722;
    There's an excellent (though not 100% accurate all the time) sheet I've been using..

    the futon critic - the web's best primetime television resource It tells how many episodes are left and when the next episode is airing. It includes almost all tv shows.
    Thanks, c_a!

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