And the WGA responds…

LOS ANGELES – The following message was issued today by the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) regarding Contract 2007 negotiations:

To Our Fellow Members,

After four days of bargaining with the AMPTP, we are writing to let you know that, though we are still at the table, the press blackout has been lifted.

Our inability to communicate with our members has left a vacuum of information that has been filled with rumors, both well intentioned and deceptive.

Among the rumors was the assertion that the AMPTP had a groundbreaking proposal that would make this negotiation a “done deal.”  In fact, for the first three days of this week, the companies presented in essence their November 4 package with not an iota of movement on any of the issues that matter to writers.

Thursday morning, the first new proposal was finally presented to us.  It dealt only with streaming and made-for-Internet jurisdiction, and it amounts to a massive rollback.

For streaming television episodes, the companies proposed a residual structure of a single fixed payment of less than $250 for a year’s reuse of an hour-long program (compared to over $20,000 payable for a network rerun).  For theatrical product they are offering no residuals whatsoever for streaming.

For made-for-Internet material, they offered minimums that would allow a studio to produce up to a 15 minute episode of network-derived web content for a script fee of $1300.  They continued to refuse to grant jurisdiction over original content for the Internet.

In their new proposal, they made absolutely no move on the download formula (which they propose to pay at the DVD rate), and continue to assert that they can deem any reuse “promotional,” and pay no residual (even if they replay the entire film or TV episode and even if they make money).

The AMPTP says it will have additional proposals to make but, as of Thursday evening, they have not been presented to us.  We are scheduled to meet with them again on Tuesday.

In the meantime, we felt it was essential to update you accurately on where negotiations stand.  On Wednesday we presented a comprehensive economic justification for our proposals.  Our entire package would cost this industry $151 million over three years.  That’s a little over a 3% increase in writer earnings each year, while company revenues are projected to grow at a rate of 10%.  We are falling behind.

For Sony, this entire deal would cost $1.68 million per year.  For Disney $6.25 million.  Paramount and CBS would each pay about $4.66 million, Warner about $11.2 million, Fox $6.04 million, and NBC/Universal $7.44 million.  MGM would pay $320,000 and the entire universe of remaining companies would assume the remainder of about $8.3 million per year.  As we’ve stated repeatedly, our proposals are more than reasonable and the companies have no excuse for denying it.

The AMPTP’s intractability is dispiriting news but it must also be motivating.  Any movement on the part of these multinational conglomerates has been the result of the collective action of our membership, with the support of SAG, other unions, supportive politicians, and the general public.  We must fight on, returning to the lines on Monday in force to make it clear that we will not back down, that we will not accept a bad deal, and that we are all in this together.

Best,

Patric M. Verrone

President, WGAW

Michael Winship

President, WGAE

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  1. A guy who works for his money says:

    All strikes are rediculous. If you don’t want to deal with the terms of your contract, then work in another profession. Don’t try to strongarm a business to give you what you want. The only reason strikes even work in the US is because of arcane labor laws that force businesses to protect their unionized workers.
    I wish they would just hire a whole new crew on non-unionized writers so that we don’t have to deal with this childish behavior.
    Unions were useful during the industrial revolution, but now they are just a selfish way to try to get paid more than your work is actually worth. Why do you think we are losing jobs to foreign countries?

  2. Frank Sr. says:

    I wonder if Jesse Jackson knows that the socially conciesce WGA were responcible for Rodchester on the Jack Benney show or Tonto by the way how many members are og the WGA are minorities?

  3. Old Writer says:

    It’s nice to be backed up by others (Chuck Wilson, you sound like my kind of guy), but this isn’t about “public support” or PR or the united front of Guild members and blue collar or white collar or no collar workers in other unions. It’s between writers and those who hire writers or buy their stories. We are going to stay out until we get a deal that halfway acknowledges the uniqueness of our services and the pure, cold dollar value of what we think up. It’s not labor — it’s the leasing or sale of intellectual property. It’s valuable because hardly anybody can do it at the level at which we do it. I used to drive a truck; then I started having ideas that entertain or engage millions. I am not going to start selling them for pennies just because the companies have stumbled onto a new way to deliver them to audiences without brick and mortar theaters. See you in June.

  4. chuck wilson says:

    I worked for a major entertainer in the music business for 15 years. We (the band and crew) had to fight for every nickel. Now, there is nothing wrong with that,but if we hadn’t our bosses would have gladly put that money in their pocket and not given me or my family or anyone else’s family a second thought. I happen to know that these particlular guys that we worked for, didn’t have any repect for someone who didn’t stand up for themselves, they ate them alive like wolves. don’t give in to these greedy fucking little pigs. It will never stop if you do. good luck

  5. Frank Sr. says:

    First do not call this a blue collar strike,writers have historically crossed picket lines,ask any teamster,and I’m sure once your issues are settled your resolve for the working man will disapear.This seems more like a social event,do you realize their are people straving in Dufar?Shame on all of you.Their are people straving right here in L.A.!!!!!Make some noise about that!!!!!!!and get off your high horse,at the end of the day your contribution to a production is no more or less than any working person.Try proping a show or driving a truck day in and day out for 30 years and your opinion of what really makes this business happen may change.As far as residuals holding you over during your dry times how about finding a job like most working class people do.

  6. New to the game says:

    I recently graduated from college (spring 06) and the strike not only affected me but people I graduated with as well. I agree that the writers should fight for what they deserve, but at the same time I felt like both sides should have come to the table sooner than they did (I think that was a little shelfish on both sides).
    While both sides are fighting they are both being compensated… while the crew/production offices/post etc. are not. And yes that is part of the industry where you don’t work for a period of time but if you need money you can get unemployement. But because you were laid off because the effects of a strike its a 7 week waiting period, which I feel is ridiculous because why should we have to suffer more…
    I just want this to be over so I can get back to work and continue my career.

  7. Old Writer says:

    You know there used to be a business that made and sold music. There were thousands of “below the line” people working there too. The writers’ fight is to preserve, at least for a few more years, a business that professionally creates story product and distributes it for money. Miss “The Office”? I miss Tower Records; my friends who used to work for Warners Records miss their jobs. Some below the line people need to grow up. I mean, you work in a business that serves people prime rib and lasagna for lunch and puts out a big table covered with snacks.

  8. Teamster John says:

    I don’t consider it selfish and obscene at all.
    Yes I lost my job because of the strike. But I work in THE FILM BUSINESS. I lose my job every couple of months anyway, every time a movie or TV season wraps.
    But if the unions don’t extend residuals to the internet I will eventually lose my pension and healthcare. And THAT scares me.
    Of course I want the WGA to settle. But if they do it without a decent proposal to deal with the internet, then my Union will strike over the same issue. And so will SAG.

  9. Tim says:

    I was going to say keep up the fight or something else semi-motivating, but when I read things like “I personally think this strike is obscene and selfish.” it disappoints me. This is one of the few (maybe only?) times where I’ve actually been in support of a strike. This is setting an extremely important precedent that in reality, affects our entire culture. Obviously in the short term, but more importantly the future. In 10-20 years when broadcast TV as we know it and things like DVDs are a thing of the past, who will be creating the content? Youtube is great and all, but if someone is going to try to make their livelihood off of working in the entertainment industry, then these matters MUST be settled. I really do sympathize with all of the tech/crew/production/everyone else that is being affected by this strike, but the fact is, if they want jobs ten years from now, then the major media conglomerates need to actually pay for the work that is being done by the non-crew individuals. The times are changing whether the studios will publicly admit it or not, and that’s why the they won’t acquiesce to a paltry $151 mil over three years for an entire industry. The impact of this reaches much further than winter-spring 07-08.
    -an uninformed consumer from Kansas
    PS I miss Chuck and the Office already

  10. Shaun says:

    I think the comment about the strike being “obscene and selfish” is short-sighted. Yes it is a shame that the strike is affecting the livelihoods of workers that aren’t often seen or thought about, and the hope is that all sides can come to an agreement so everyone can get back to doing what they love to do, but sympathy and feelings don’t pay bills. The Writers are fighting for their futures: the internet is THE next big thing in distribution. It may take ten years, but if the writers lock into a contract that offers them a pittance for on-line distribution, and then a large majority of TV goes on-line, they risk signing themselves into indentured servitude. The studios want to offer $250 a year to replay an episode on-line? That’s utterly insane. I know the public thinks the writers are big money makers, and some do make a very comfortable living, but some do not, and they might work as a junior writer on a show for five years and then not be able to get on a show for a couple of years. Residual payments help make up the difference of those “lean” years.
    So while the strike hurts those who work tirelessly behind the scenes, it’s not fair to ask anyone, including the writers, to accept a deal that anyone can see is ridiculous, just because they may feel bad for the effect this is having on the industry. Why not put pressure on the Studios. They’re the ones who make the most money. They’re the ones who are stubbornly holding out on fair compensation.

  11. w warner says:

    I personally think this strike is obscene and selfish. Hundreds of people are being put out of work through no fault of the their own and who have nothing to benefit from it. Some of you may say “we will raise money for our crews” meanwhile there are those in Post Production and others who work behind the scenes that are invisble to you and who are losing jobs aka income. They too have families to support and mortgages to pay. As for Writers and Actors both, your work would not be seen or heard at all if it were not for the technical people. Get over yourselves and let these people get back to work and enjoy the Holiday Season.

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