Sunday, February 10, 2008

WGA Strike: A Tentative Deal

Almost Over.

The graph from last January of falling studio stock prices, shows why.

Writers met Saturday in New York City and Los Angeles to hear the proposal. The New York City membership (WGAE) generally was for lifting the strike. I don't have word yet on Los Angeles (WGAw.)

The Board can a) lift the strike on its own, b) schedule a 48 hour vote, or c) schedule a 10 day vote. I think option b, a 48 hour vote is most politically likely. That puts everyone back to work Wednesday, yet lets everyone be clear it is their choice to take this contract. Which in my view is as it should be, after this much sacrifice and work.

If the writers don't take the deal, most of it will be withdrawn. They will lose all their leverage -- the Academy Awards, Upfronts (selling the fall season), pilot season, hiring for the fall shows -- till June when SAG joins them on the picket lines. That's three more months of walking in circles for nothing, as there is no guarantee they'll get any better deal then.

The writers will take the deal (I say confidently.) Not perfect, but no negotiation is.

United Hollywood

Letter From The Presidents With Deal Summary

This was sent early this morning to membership. The delay in publishing the deal points, we've learned, was because the companies dragged their feet enshrining some of the final details in an attempt to renege on some of what they had promised. The last-minute fight to keep that from happening took until late last night.

To Our Fellow Members,

We have a tentative deal.

It is an agreement that protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery. It creates formulas for revenue-based residuals in new media, provides access to deals and financial data to help us evaluate and enforce those formulas, and establishes the principle that, "When they get paid, we get paid."

Specific terms of the agreement are described in the summary at the following link - - and will be further discussed at our Saturday membership meetings on both coasts. At those meetings we will also discuss how we will proceed regarding ratification of this agreement and lifting the restraining order that ends the strike. Details of the Los Angeles meeting can be found at

Less than six months ago, the AMPTP wanted to enact profit-based residuals, defer all Internet compensation in favor of a study, forever eliminate "distributor's gross" valuations, and enforce 39 pages of rollbacks to compensation, pension and health benefits, reacquisition, and separated rights. Today, thanks to three months of physical resolve, determination, and perseverance, we have a contract that includes WGA jurisdiction and separated rights in new media, residuals for Internet reuse, enforcement and auditing tools, expansion of fair market value and distributor's gross language, improvements to other traditional elements of the MBA, and no rollbacks.

Over these three difficult months, we shut down production of nearly all scripted content in TV and film and had a serious impact on the business of our employers in ways they did not expect and were hard pressed to deflect. Nevertheless, an ongoing struggle against seven, multinational media conglomerates, no matter how successful, is exhausting, taking an enormous personal toll on our members and countless others. As such, we believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike.

Much has been achieved, and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success. We activated, engaged, and involved the membership of our Guilds with a solidarity that has never before occurred. We developed a captains system and a communications structure that used the Internet to build bonds within our membership and beyond. We earned the backing of other unions and their members worldwide, the respect of elected leaders and politicians throughout the nation, and the overwhelming support of fans and the general public. Our thanks to all of them, and to the staffs at both Guilds who have worked so long and patiently to help us all.

There is much yet to be done and we intend to use all the techniques and relationships we've developed in this strike to make it happen. We must support our brothers and sisters in SAG who, as their contract expires in less than five months, will be facing many of the same challenges we have just endured. We must further pursue new relationships we have established in Washington and in state and local governments so that we can maintain leverage against the consolidated multinational conglomerates with whom we bargain. We must be vigilant in monitoring the deals that are made in new media so that in the years ahead we can enforce and expand our contract. We must fight to get decent working conditions and benefits for writers of reality TV, animation, and any other genre in which writers do not have a WGA contract.

Most important, however, is to continue to use the new collective power we have generated for our collective benefit. More than ever, now and beyond, we are all in this together.


Patric M. Verrone
President, WGAW

Michael Winship
President, WGAE
Has the strike been worth it?

Bet your ass.

The studios tried to steal the internet. Failed.

You did that.

Without massive support from everyone, from readers of blogs, to the ordinary television viewer, to the people at my breakfast diner, from actors and the writers walking around in circles, this could not and would not have happened.

We're all in this together. Good work and congratulations.