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In support of the Writer's Guild Stike

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I love a good script. Any show or movie can have a top notch cast, but if the script stinks, so does the movie/show. The world has changed, and indeed, the writers deserve far better than what they are getting from DVD and internet profits. As an artist and writer, I am behind the strikers 100% and am heretofore boycotting any affected shows and movies until the matter is resolved and the writers return to work. Of course, NASATV and Turner Movie classics are not affected, neither is the Weather Channel, so that will hold me over till then. I wish all the writers best of luck and Godspeed in getting the matter resolved. The J4 is behind ya!

Oh yeah, and to Ellen DeGeneres, if you are reading this....Phooey on Youey! Without your writing team your humor is as funny as a gut full of pinworms!

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As a member of the Writer's Guild of America, West-- and a writer/producer/father of three who is now sadly out of work and traipsing daily up and down the picket lines-- I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support, Jason. Contrary to popular belief (AKA - what the mega-rich entertainment conglomerates would currently have you believe), writers are not the highest paid members of the entertainment business. The average professional Hollywood writer makes $62,000 a year-- assuming he or she actually works every year-- which is a huge assumption to make, and the very reason why residual income has become so important to us since it was first fought hard for and won by Guild members many years ago. We've already given up on any DVD increases during this bitter negotiation (it was only four cents we were asking for, mind you) - but it's absolutely imperative that we forge a new deal for new media - namely, the internet. Take it from a guy who isn't making a dime from episodes I've slaved for months over which are currently available for downloadable purchase online-- when the studios and networks try to pretend they have no business plans in place for new media-- it's just that-- pretense.

I originally hail from the Heartland. And believe me, I do realize how relatively wealthy EVERYONE working in the entertainment biz is compared to a farmer in Oklahoma or a plant worker in Michigan. And because I also genuinely love our incredibly hard-working crew-- it will also kill me to see them out of work as well once the scripts dry up. But I also believe passionately in the value of authorship and the arts-- and so do the corporations-- with the critical and greedy difference being that they only value the product, and rarely its producer. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you this is a make it or break it deal making process for the twelve thousand members of the Writer's Guild. And if we lose this fight-- we'll not only lose residuals (with the directors and actors next in line)-- but sooner than later, when TV, Movies, and your Computer have all seamlessly become one-- we'll lose our Guild altogether.

Take a moment if you can-- and view this short YouTube movie which clearly and succinctly explains exactly what's at stake for Hollywood's writers far better than I ever could.

[url:7d177]http://weblogs.variety.com/thompsononhollywood/2007/11/wga-strikje-wat.html[/url:7d177]

And here's another that proves the companies know full well where the future of this business lies... even if they now intend to lie about it...

[url:7d177]http://unitedhollywood.blogspot.com/2007/11/heartbreaking-voices-of-uncertainty.html[/url:7d177]

Thanks again for your support.

-Trey

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The writers obviously deserve something from the new media. According to an interesting article in this morning's L.A. Times, the real question is what slice of the pie.

Writers, directors and actors are obvious contributors of creative talent, but there are many others as well, such as cinematographers. And there is a strong argument that those who risk their investment money (with no absolute promise of any return on investment) should have a piece of the pie too. (Writers would say that the investors currently get a piece of the pie which is far more than it should be- I have no opinion on what size each of the pie slices should be, although if writers are getting zero then something is probably out of kilter.)

The article explained how playwrights and movie/TV writers went two different directions way back almost a hundred years ago, and the reasons why. Interesting. The investors and director/producer currently get a huge piece of the pie in movies & TV, while playwrights have always gotten a major slice of stage production profits.

The difficult part of the negotiations, assuming writers can get their foot in the door, will be the complicated formula to divide up the pie. It might come down to variable & fixed formulas based on risk taking versus the need for fixed income (salaries).

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First off, shame on Ellen! I'm a member of the CWA so of course I'm 100 % behind both the writers and the stagehands strike. The local media here in NY, especially the newsradio stations (880 & 1010) love to play audio of poor little kids who came to New York and are not able to see their Broadway shows. Many of the folks manning the pickets have kids at home and dad isn't bringing home a paycheck

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Thanks for the support, Irish! Having once done a series of my own up in Canada-- I have nothing but love for Canadian writers and crews.

You're right, Randy-- it will be complex to sort out-- but far from impossible. And there will always be piracy issues to contend with-- just as there are today. But the technology already exists to create secure, trackable files for downloading through all legitimate internet venues (as is done for music)-- and the networks and studios now have decades of experience paying residuals to writers for additional runs of our material. They just don't want to anymore-- much like the movie moguls of old didn't want to share the pie with writers the way their New York producing predeccessors had with their playwrights. It is a collaborative medium, no doubt. And it takes a whole lot of talented and creative people to make a TV show or movie. But every job on a scripted series or film starts the same way-- with a script-- written by someone who usually spent years eating ramen noodles while they honed their craft and struggled to get their stories told. Only without residuals to keep them afloat between gigs-- most writers (including yours truly) would never be able to keep telling them.

On that note-- I'm off to the picket line.

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This just in...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

Ellen DeGeneres Cancels NYC Show Tapings

By ERIN CARLSON,AP

Posted: 2007-11-15 08:42:13

NEW YORK (AP) - Ellen DeGeneres has pulled the plug on plans to tape her show next week in New York, where Writers Guild East members had vowed to protest her decision to stay on the air during their strike.

Michael Winship, president of the East Coast branch of the Writers Guild, said the organization was "delighted" with DeGeneres' decision to stay on the West Coast.

"She knows that the Writers Guild East would have been there to protest her lack of solidarity, not only with her Guild writing staff but all the striking members of the Writers Guild, of which she is a member," Winship said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Laura Mandel, a representative for "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," confirmed Wednesday that DeGeneres had scrapped the trip. When asked whether the cancellation was related to the strike, Mandel said: "We make changes all of the time. Our schedule is always fluid."

The syndicated "Ellen" is staying on the air without its union writers, and though DeGeneres herself is a member of the WGA, Mandel says her role on the show is as a performer. She skipped her show the first day of the strike in support of her writers, but returned the following day to honor her contract.

The strike by television and film writers entered its 10th day Wednesday. While production on several talk shows was immediately halted, DeGeneres has stayed put. She told her studio audience last week that while she supported the striking writers, she was obligated under contract to continue her hosting duties.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, so which is it...is she still doing the show because she didn't want to disapoint the kiddies that came to see it, or because she is obligated under contract? Two different stories. Also, if she is a union member, can she get fired if she joins the picket line? How can one say they are supporting the strikers while at the same time crossing the line? That's as supportive as a broken brasseire. I just cannot respect her position with all of those people out of work right now, no matter what her excuse is. She should be booed right off the stage. Maybe she is actually an animatronic.(there's 3 animatronic Degeneres at Epcot, so who knows?) Anyone have any SKF ball bearings? We'll see if she twitches.

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Yes, she could be legally fired if she does not abide by her contract provisions if that contract is not covered under a collective bargaining agreement by the bargaining unit that is out on a legally-protected strike. The only people protected are those whose jobs are covered under that bargaining unit's contract. Everybody else is expected to report to work.

That's why the Teamsters are crossing the picket line, albeit driving EXTREMELY slow and honking in solidatary as they drive through and giving picketers a "thumbs up". You can show support while also going about your own job.

The question for the Degeneres show is whether it can garner enough ratings without "professional Guild writing" to keep advertising sponsors happy, or will they demand a refund of some of their ad fees? Will the show be so poor that people will tune out, kill the ratings, and make the sponsors demand refunds? I'm sure that's what the Guild would hope, if they can't shut down the show completely.

It boils down to supply and demand, and ultimately what kind of artistic quality is enough to whet the public's viewing appetite, enough to generate high enough ratings to pull in the higher ad fees, a large part of which undoubtedly go to pay Degeneres' salary.

One thing to keep in mind is that while a lot of people undoubtedly sympathize with writers and agree that you deserve a piece of the pie, the number of people who are suspicious of and distrust the collective bargaining process and unions in general is probably EQUAL in this country to those who believe that collective bargaining and unions are the only thing that keeps the "robber barons" from turning everybody in the country into slaves. That was certainly not true 40 or 50 years ago when Unions represented a far greater percentage of America's work force.

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the number of people who are suspicious of and distrust the collective bargaining process and unions in general is probably EQUAL in this country to those who believe that collective bargaining and unions are the only thing that keeps the "robber barons" from turning everybody in the country into slaves.

Poll shows support for writers

Almost 2 of 3 Americans back guild members in their dispute with studios, a survey to be released today indicates.

By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 14, 2007

Hollywood's striking film and TV writers appear to have won the first round in the battle for public opinion.

Almost 2 out of 3 Americans, or 63%, said they were more inclined to side with writers in their dispute with major studios, according to a survey by Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business Management that is scheduled to be released today.

Writers went on strike last week amid disputes over pay when their work is distributed on the Internet and via cellphones and other new-media devices.

Only 4% of 1,000 American adults polled favored studios in the dispute, and 33% were unsure, according to the online survey. And 47% thought writers deserved the largest share of residual payments, compared with 26% for actors, 25% for producers and 2% for directors, the study found.

"It is not uncommon for the public to be sympathetic toward the side striking in a labor dispute," said David Smith, a labor economist at Pepperdine. "However, it is somewhat surprising to see overwhelming support from Americans for the creative side of the industry."

Smith said the public support could wane if the strike disrupted consumers' TV viewing habits. Though several shows have stopped shooting, viewers won't notice much change until early next year, when reruns, sports and reality shows replace scripted programs.

When asked about the prospect of reruns replacing new shows, 42% of the respondents said they would read more, and 35% said they would spend more time on the Internet.

Barbara Brogliatti, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said the findings weren't surprising. "You'd expect nothing less when the only real information the public is getting is from sound bites and the issues are as complex as these," she said.

richard.verrier@latimes.com

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I feel your pain Trey, the suits are such greedy scoundrel's ! THE WORST !!!

I'm IATSE (Local 1 Stage Hands) these big Media companys, Conglomerates and SOB Producers want us all dead, stuffed and in the Museam of Natural History as well.

I just baught a house and an 71 Vette in Mattituck this summer.

I now have to cash in a CD tomorrow to pay the bills then go picket---Fun Fun Fun

The ___Is really going to hit the fan when the $12.50 an hour stage-scabs from the UK arrive.

There is no NO end in sight !

-Joe

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Hey, Joe, I just saw a blurb on our local news about your strike. Small world!

OT History question: For ages and ages Hollywood movies had the IATSE emblem on one of their title cards, without fail.

I don't notice that any more. Am I missing it, or do they not do that anymore?

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Hey, Joe, I just saw a blurb on our local news about your strike. Small world!

OT History question: For ages and ages Hollywood movies had the IATSE emblem on one of their title cards, without fail.

I don't notice that any more. Am I missing it, or do they not do that anymore?

They want to snuff us out.

Many of those shows, movies are shot in Canada or on private locations to beat the Unions.

"Burp".....I wont even go into the cheap FAKE realiety shows that have just about ALL there roots in British TV. (Perhaps our resident writer can spill some beans)

Yeah funny you saw me on the news they had to cut out or bleep most of what I said (sorry about that) a riot followed after my VIACOM comment and couple boards got pulled down (that didnt make to the air also)

These writers have it the WORST, They are underpaid (1/3 -1/2 what we make) and endure mush more mental stress.

(We have coffie with them picketing)

For exampleas an engineer I can tell you this Verizon FIOS HDTV is going to blow everything out there away, I just had it installed.

Everbodys will be re-watching there fav old movies (digital) as they are re-released in HD and sent over the internet in packets. The writers wont see a dime yet the producers get a huge HUGE piece of the pie no matter what media it arrives to your screen on.

All the greedy crook bast*rds that be in this sham should be on Rikers making new friends !!

-Joe

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They want to snuff us out.

Many of those shows, movies are shot in Canada or on private locations to beat the Unions.

"Burp".....I wont even go into the cheap FAKE reality shows that have just about ALL there roots in British TV. (Perhaps our resident writer can spill some beans)

Yeah funny you saw me on the news they had to cut out or bleep most of what I said (sorry about that) a riot followed after my VIACOM comment and couple boards got pulled down (that didn’t make to the air also)

These writers have it the WORST, They are underpaid (1/3 -1/2 what we make) and endure mush more mental stress.

(We have coffee with them picketing)

For example as an engineer I can tell you this Verizon FIOS HDTV is going to blow everything out there away, I just had it installed.

Everybody will be re-watching there fav old movies (digital) as they are re-released in HD and sent over the internet in packets. The writers won’t see a dime yet the producers get a huge HUGE piece of the pie no matter what form of media brings it to your viewing.

All the greedy thief bast*rds trying to screw us belong on Rikers making new friends however they can afford law firms of 1000 OJ's !!

-Joe

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We have coffie with them picketing.

You mean like Starbucks?, or is that Guild code talk for something else?

I read an article once on the psychology of the picket line. It was interesting. It said one way to 'buck up the troops' when times get tough and people start wondering about the long-term wisdom of the labor action, is make them stop thinking about their own situation by casting the other side as the devil incarnate. So pocketbook issues like compensation, gain-sharing, and medical costs, get set aside and replaced by terms like 'robber barrons', 'blood-suckers', etc., and temporary replacement workers get cast as 'scabs'- which yields thoughts of infectious dirty scum.

The unions have a long-standing glossary of such terms that they've developed over the years, which they invoke at just the right time (not too early, not too soon). Very predictable.

But the other side does the same thing. Union members become a 'den of socialists', or worse yet 'commies'. And that's just for starters.

It's all so unnecessary. In fact, it sounds a lot like political campaigns, doesn't it, when things get personal and dirty?

Why can't the two sides just say there are some issues that they disagree on, and focus on those issues rather than the personal attacks and name-calling?

I know it's easy to fall in with the crowd when walking a picket line with a group- you get into the crowd mentality and might say and yell things that would never come out of your mouth if you were by yourself; but to me, those who resort to such tactics lose some of the weight of their case. But them I'm an unemotional fact-based analyst. If a case has very strong factual weight behind it, why does one need to resort to the other stuff? Is there a hope that it will 'connect' with the listener- in reinforcing some pre-conceived notion that they may already have (for example the jury on the O.J. Simpson case, who had strong preconceptions that the police department was crooked to begin with, so all they needed was the tiniest suggestion and of course they jumped to a conclusion before Cochran could even say 'if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit'). Or is the concept that in order to convince somebody of the merit of your own case, you have to convince them that the MOTIVES of those on the other side who have a different opinion are based on something nefarious and evil? Do all union members automatically believe that a person who is elected to Chair a Board of Directors at any American corporation automatically grows a red tail & horns, and carries a pitchfork? Sometimes it sounds that way. And if they don't really believe that, then why when it becomes necessary for a labor action (strike), they suddenly start casting the CEO(s) in those terms?

Speaking of Canada- if we recognize that we're in a global competitive arena, what are the American Guild writers trying to do to 'partner' with their Canadian writing brethren? Would shooting in Canada be such a bad thing if they used the scripts that American guild writers wrote? Or took an American writer up there for the duration of the shoot? I don't know any of these answers because I am not connected with the industry in any way. If 75% of all shows moved to Canada, would American writers consider moving up there too, or just look for a different line of work?

In my industry, the way you fight outsourcing is to raise the level of quality & productivity so high as to make it very unlikely that any foreign source could match that level of quality. And get that level of quality imbedded in customer expectations like ISO standards. So although doing it in the U.S.A. is going to cost more, the product is SO MUCH better that your customers demand it. But maybe that doesn't work with movie & TV writing, the standards for which are subjective to begin with- I don't know.

What is the Guild doing to continually improve the product so that American writing is the "writing of choice", so that even foreign directors would come over here to get an American writer because they're that much better? If the product is not a generic commodity, then demand will ratchet up the price, right? So if a particular group of writers is so "hot" that they are wanted for five different shows in five different countries, they can almost name their asking price, right? Supply and demand. I think if I were a Guild member that's what I would want to pursue long term.

But then that's also an argument for 'free agent' deals rather than collective bargaining.

Sorry for such a long note- just thinking of stuff off the top of my head.

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Well, first of all-- thanks for your support, Joe-- I got too busy and wiped out on the picket lines last week to notice the new posts in this thread or I would've responded much sooner. Hope I get to meet you on the lines so I can thank you in person-- or better yet that one day we get to actually work together.

As for your most recent opus, Randy-- I appreciate anyone's best ideas and intentions after two very difficult weeks of walking in circles like a broken down carnival pony outside the studio where I'd normally be (and believe me, would MUCH rather be) hard at work. But as someone who's put almost 20 years of painstaking effort into continually trying to "improve the product," I can tell you that more often than not, the companies don't care if they're selling ANNIE HALL or DEUCE BIGALOW as long as it sells. I've spent two years researching and writing historical epics that no one will ever see-- and two months writing teen horror films that make 100 million at the box office and still get regular play on cable. In either case, like most writers, I still try as hard as I can to tell the most entertaining story possible-- and then hope to connect with an audience and make some money while I'm at it. The real trick is the latter. Of course, I'm well aware that commerce is the handmaiden of the arts and that I need the studios and networks just as they need me. But except for during awards season-- they'll rarely ever admit that. And suddenly, when we ask for a fair piece of the pie and try to protect our stake in the future-- we find ourselves on the street-- and instead of continuing to help supply my network with a hit series that millions of viewers value every week, I'll find myself holding a sign on the sidewalk once more in the morning, wishing I could be ANYWHERE else.

Now look-- I've gone and written an opus of my own. On well... thank God (and Marc) I can at least still write on PTU!

Meanwhile, at least both sides have finally agreed to return to thw table on Monday, November 26th. Your support (on and off the picket lines) and prayers continue to be greatly appreciated.

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Well, first of all-- thanks for your support, Joe-- I got too busy and wiped out on the picket lines last week to notice the new posts in this thread or I would've responded much sooner. Hope I get to meet you on the lines so I can thank you in person-- or better yet that one day we get to actually work together.

And Eric, thanks for your unflagging encouragement as well!

As for your most recent opus, Randy-- I appreciate anyone's best ideas and intentions after two very difficult weeks of walking in circles like a broken down carnival pony outside the studio where I'd normally be (and believe me, would MUCH rather be) hard at work. But as someone who's put almost 20 years of painstaking effort into continually trying to "improve the product," I can tell you that more often than not, the companies don't care if they're selling ANNIE HALL or DEUCE BIGALOW as long as it sells. I've spent two years researching and writing historical epics that no one will ever see-- and two months writing teen horror films that make 100 million at the box office and still get regular play on cable. In either case, like most writers, I still try as hard as I can to tell the most entertaining story possible-- and then hope to connect with an audience and make some money while I'm at it. The real trick is the latter. Of course, I'm well aware that commerce is the handmaiden of the arts and that I need the studios and networks just as they need me. Yet they'll rarely ever admit that outside of Awards Season. And suddenly, when we ask for a fair piece of the pie and try to protect our stake in the future-- we find ourselves on the street-- and instead of continuing to help supply my network

with a hit series that millions of viewers enjoy and the parent company has made BILLIONS on, I'll find myself holding a

sign on the sidewalk once more in the morning, wishing I could be ANYWHERE else.

Now look-- I've gone and written an opus of my own. Oh well... thank God (and Marc) I can at least still write on PTU!

Meanwhile, at least both sides have finally agreed to return to the table on Monday, November 26th. Your support (on and off the picket lines) and prayers continue to be greatly appreciated.

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I saw that Nov. 26th date in the paper either yesterday or Friday, I can't remember which.

And the first thing that struck me was- what did the rank and file think of announcing a date to once again start talking- that was TEN DAYS IN THE FUTURE!

In other words, ten more days of not making a dime.

Why wouldn't the guild say 'okay, since we agree that there is no possibility of any movement between now and the 26th, we're coming off strike for the next NINE days so our people can make a LITTLE BIT of money, but then we're walking out again the day before talks re-start just so there will be appropriate pressure at the negotiating table? I guess that could be viewed as a weakening of the Guild's position, and the studios could then just push the date another week, and then another week, as long as the writers kept working.

I don't know, it sounds like some silliness is going on. Like both sides agree when talks are going to re-start, but between now and then the strike goes on----for what?

I guess what it all boils down to is both the corporate reps and the Guild negotiators would both rather enjoy their Thanksgiving 'holiday' with their own families, then work toward resolving the impasse for the po' folks out on strike.

I'd like to know something. Does the President of the Writer's Guild forego his salary until the strike ends, out of solidarity with the rank-and-file? Just wondered....

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Shows do not shoot over the Thanksgiving holiday. The town shuts down with or without a strike. The same will be true at Christmas. And my gut tells me that negotiators having to sit down at the table with their families before they sit down at the table with each other is probably not a bad thing.

Writer's Guild President Patrick Verrone does not receive a salary. He is a member who volunteers his time to serve on the board and his only income is derived through his work as a screenwriter... which currently, he is unable to perform.

Randy, I gather from your posts on the subject that you're not a big union supporter, if that's not putting it too strongly. And whether or not my assessment is accurate-- I still respect your opinion. What's more, as I've said elsewhere repeatedly in this thread-- none of us wants ANYONE to be out of work-- at the holidays, or any time of the year. This is a company town and we all work together. But every single job on a Hollywood production begins with the script. And most of the movies and television shows you've enjoyed since the time of the 64/65 NYWF have been made largely possible by Hollywood writers being able to fight hard through the WGA to secure pension, health, and most importantly, residual benefits that quite literally keep us alive and afloat between gigs.

Just a word on residuals so that everyone understands--

A residual isn't a handout or an allowance or Paris Hilton's trust fund. It's not a lottery payout, or alimony, or an annuity from a slip and fall accident at a casino. A residual is a deferred payment against the lifetime value of a script. It's not a perk. It's okay if you didn't know that. It's in the best interests of a lot of fairly large corporations that you don't.

I think Guild member Richard Maxwell very adroitly broke down the reasons we're striking:

"As a member of the Guild, I’ve often heard two pieces of conventional wisdom:

1) The WGA is the tip of the spear. When there are important issues being negotiated, we end up having to go on strike first so the other guilds and unions don’t have to.

2) Nothing has ever been won in this town without a strike or threat of a strike.

The first statement, like most conventional wisdom, is only partially right.

Let’s take residuals, which, in one incarnation or another, have been at the center of every strike since the 50s. The right to get paid for the reuse of material was actually first won by the AFRA, the American Federation of Radio Artists, in 1941. That’s the group now called AFTRA. Then as now the situation involved new technologies. Prior to 1941, radio performers did the same show twice each night – once on New York time, then again for the West Coast. When new recording technology became available, management was able to record and rebroadcast the show. Performers demanded and got compensation.

The American Federation of Musicians won the first residuals paid for the reuse of films on television in 1951. Having just gone through a long and costly ASCAP strike, management wisely didn’t want to risk another musician’s strike and settled.

In 1952, it was SAG’s turn to step up. Under the leadership of Walter Pidgeon, the Screen Actors Guild called their first-ever strike against Monogram Pictures to get residuals for films shown on television. In 1953, the WGA struck and received residuals as well. But the amount agreed upon was very small.

It was dual strikes by the WGA and SAG in 1960 – separate but coordinated – that built the Hollywood in which we have all been working. The WGA stayed out for 22 weeks. It won substantial residuals for the reuse of a film on television, establishing the principle that when an artist’s creative content is reused in a different medium it requires new compensation. (Sound familiar?) By showing tremendous solidarity, staying behind the negotiating committee and staying strong on the picket lines, the Guild also won the current health and pension plans, which no one at the time thought was possible.

During the strikes of the 1980s, the WGA was the first creative union to see the potential of home video. Ironically, that worked against us. A-list players like Lucas and Spielberg started using “as defined by the Writer’s Guild” language in their contracts concerning home video sales, and the influence of the Guild agreements mushroomed. When management unilaterally (and possibly illegally – we’ll never know because we withdrew our legal challenges as part of 1988 settlement) decided to redefine what “profit” meant and got caught with its hand in the cookie jar, the total amount owed by the studios to talent was truly enormous. For the good of the industry, the WGA backed down. That is how the current DVD formula came to be. We helped management out of a difficult bind, but you’ll notice they never returned the favor.

So is the WGA always the tip of the spear? Sometimes it has been. Sometimes the lead has been taken by SAG. Someday it might be the DGA’s turn. But whichever union takes the lead on an issue, we all benefit because we are all in this together.

And that second piece of conventional wisdom? That nothing has ever been won in this town without a strike? Well, that is TOTALLY true. You can take that to the bank."

I couldn't agree with Maxwell more. But again-- with a family of my own to feed-- believe me when I tell you I JUST WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK.

May it be very soon.

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As for my personal views, I think unions played a very valuable part in American labor from the 1890's until World War II. They forced through some changes that legislatures were loathe to tackle.

Most of those reforms and many more have now been incorporated into the law of land.

After going through the toil and turmoil of greed and crookedness (example: Jimmy Hoffa) for two or three decades, most of the unions finally succeeded in cleaning themselves up just as the American workforce was being transformed. Jobs which by their nature had been perfect for collective bargaining- the stamp-on-the-forehead commodity jobs ("send me over five electricians, and make sure they're certified")- where seniority is more of a determiner of compensation levels, rather than expertise- those jobs began dwindling and high tech services and 'professional' jobs began increasing. Those jobs are hard to unionize because workers don't see great value in it, especially when they are paid well and they know it. And if they are recognized and paid even better when they find ways to produce higher quality, faster, then those workers view collective bargaining with suspicion at best. They do better bargaining for themselves.

There has to be considerable dissatisfaction before workers will vote to unionize, and even then they often have to be convinced that life with a union card will be better than life without one. In many lines of work that is a difficult argument, if not downright impossible.

Union strength in the American automobile industry is a perfect example. Union leadership finds itself between a rock and a hard place in a highly competive global economy. Fight hard for wage increases and membership is happy in the short term, but in a very short while they'll be out of jobs because the employer will tank. But give in TOO much and the rank and file will be unhappy, because you're deeply cutting into the standard of living that they and their parents and their grandparents grew to expect (perhaps unrealistically) in the 50's and 60's.

The big traditional airlines are another one- the Uniteds and the Deltas. How many have already tanked?- Pan Am, TWA, the list is endless. So pilots and flight attendants and everybody else knows they have to compromise on cost-of-labor issues if they want their employer to stay in business. But some of those airlines have tried to offset it by giving those employees 'a piece of the company'. TWA became employee-owned and was so successful in turning it around (including downsizing) that they became a takeover target, and got absorbed into American Airlines.

The relationship between employers and represented employees is symbiotic- they need each other and know it. So usually neither presses their case beyond a reasonable bandwidth.

What's sad is when one side is convinced of a "philosphical point" so much that they push it beyond reason- when anybody who is not an insider can see clearly that they are seriously hurting themselves. The supermarket workers strike a few years ago here in Southern California was pretty sad. The workers lost, but they had set themselves up in an unwinnable position.

One thing to consider-

If the internet and "new media" did not exist- would your job still be the same as it is today?- would you be asked to produce anything differently, or more or less?

Would you be reasonably happy with your compensation & benefits?

Are you being asked to do anything more now?

How about instead of residuals for new media, you were given a bumped up matching percentage on a 401K plan, with the bump-up being accomplished with company stock? How about a gain-sharing plan?

I work at Boeing. On day one when you hire in, EVERY EMPLOYEE- even the night janitor, has to sign a document saying that if you invent anything (such as patentable or copyrightable stuff) on company time or using company assets, or even building on knowledge gained at the company, that you cede all rights to the company. So although patents are filed with the name of individual Boeing engineers, the company claims any revenue associated with those ideas. And Boeing engineers are compensated VERY well. There have been many attempts to unionize Boeing engineers, and to my knowledge only one was successful. And after about ten years, THAT group of engineers voted to decertify. I'm not an engineer, but I work with them, and very few that I've talked to are unhappy with that employment arrangement.

So the only labor stoppages the company has to worry about are hourly shop floor jobs, and occasional Teamster driver kind of things.

Here are some interesting things to read, regarding the dychotomy of "to strike or not to strike, that is the question", and the psychology of employer-union relations.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.h ... A966958260

These two are long ones, but have some interesting stuff in them:

http://books.google.com/books?id=RTt-7z ... HPcQc01x3o

http://books.google.com/books?id=rgRYfg ... #PPA191,M1

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Thanks for the links, Randy.

Now, in the interest of our continued comraderie and Peace Through Understanding... and since we both still probably know a lot more about Flushing Meadow than we do each other's careers... what say we just agree to disagree and let everybody return to their regularly scheduled New York World's Fair program? One silver lining in this terrible situation is that at least I get to spend a little more time on PTU. So rather than waste it trying to explain and defend our cause (which I already have to do a minimum of 20 hours a week on the picket line) I'd much rather look at pictures of rusty elevator cables and talk about Joe the Worker ( ).

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Just an update

The accountant’s union has now joined the NYC strike tonight

Now the producers won’t even know how much money they are loosing

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I think we agree on a whole lot more than we disagree.

In sympathy with the newly walked-out accountants, are all the people on the picket lines tomorrow going to wear an eye shade, an armband and a pocket protector? That would be great, and very photogenic- would get lots of evening news coverage.

Say, with the accountants on strike the companies could say they don't make any money at all on new media, and nobody would be there to prove them wrong or right. I'm beginning to like this development. (I have an accounting degree) Not that I want to empower the companies, but suddenly us lowly accountants control all the information that everybody wants. Accountants will get the biggest piece of the pie since accountants are the only ones allowed to wield the pie cutter. And since you're both now out on strike, you can strike your own writer-accountant teaming agreement to make sure that the pie slices add up to 300% of the size of the original pie (like the accountant in The Producers with his oversubscription scheme.)

Better yet, if you could get EVERYBODY to go out on strike, you could just start up new production companies and strike your own deals with investors. Only, if the employees themselves were actually the owners, who would you collectively bargain with? I'm getting a headache- here we go again with one of those space-time continuum things. But Zero Mostel would love it.

You're right, things were less complicated at the World's Fair. I better go run around the city of Rome seven more times.

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Well, first of all-- thanks for your support, Joe-- I got too busy and wiped out on the picket lines last week to notice the new posts in this thread

been sitting around all day, I picket tomorrow.

Funny what Randy said about eye shade..LOL perhaps he's Kreskin !

Some costume people whipped us some nice warm Rat, Scrooge and Grinch costumes, its getting real interesting in NYC.

The accountants went on strike this afternoon and NOW the theatre OWNER's and Managers went on strike after IATSE agreed to send some guys to work "The Grinch" shows so all the kids dont suffer.

The thugs locked the doors.

The SNL cast and writers are doing there "unplugged" show at a off Broadway private theater, it’s sold out (proceeds to the writers guild) but NBC isn’t televising it at this time.

Us IATSE are working on some sidewalk stuff for the kids in Times Square.... got a nod from the Mayor

-Joe

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Labor Unions to March Down Hollywood Blvd. in Support of Striking Writers

Solidarity March Today Expected to Draw Thousands

Striking members of the Writers Guild of America, West will be joined by members of the Service Employees International Union, California Nurses Association, Teamsters, actors, musicians, elected officials, and union supporters today at 1:00 p.m. in a Solidarity with Writers march and rally on Hollywood Blvd.

Speakers scheduled to appear include: WGAW President Patric M. Verrone, United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) President Sal Rosselli, Teamsters Joint Council 42 President Jim Santangelo, Teamsters (Local 399) Division Director Leo Reed, L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti, WGA Negotiating Committee Chair and WGAW Board member John F. Bowman, actress and SAG member Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy). Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys is tentatively scheduled to perform at 1:15 pm at Hollywood Blvd. & Ivar Ave.

March will start at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd. at Ivar Ave. (between Cahuenga Blvd. and Vine St.) in the heart of Hollywood, CA.

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All the best! I can't be there in person, but I will certainly be there in spirit! JS

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