The mood on the WGA picket line at NBC today was serious. Not somber, not grim, but certainly not jovial or even light-hearted.
It was very clear that pickets had been urged by strike captains et al not share any candid opinions about the merits of the DGA deal with reporters. (Two guys even exchanged a brief whisper about this in front of me as I began my rounds.) It was a little unnerving to hear virtually the same lines from every person I approached, but on the other hand, the decision to give this direction to the pickets indicates the WGA is making an effort to give a careful response to what could be the breakthrough that (fingers-crossed) ends the strike. And that represents a healthy dose of pragmatism on the WGA’s part.
Mostly, pickets said they had to see the fine print of the deal before making up their minds.
“All we’ve seen is a press release,” said more than few of the 200 or so who turned out for Friday’s sole picket location, the 2:30-5 p.m. shift at NBC. WGA members want to hear from their guild leaders once they’ve had time to do an economic analysis of what the DGA terms might fetch writers.
Another overriding sentiment among the scribes was: Where the heck was this offer two and a half months ago? Had the AMPTP put these kind of terms on the table, the dynamic in the WGA’s formal bargaining sessions prior to the Dec. 7 walkout by the majors might’ve been very, very different, and the bank balances of WGA members not nearly so depleted.
“Why didn’t they offer this to the writers,” asked screenwriter Tom Flynn, who was candid in discussing his financial straits. “We’re about two months away from leasing out our house.”