Studios Running Scared Over Writer's Strike

by Paul William Tenny

A lot has been made over how inept the Writers Guild of America leadership is in union affairs, meaning that they act too much like they real Hollywood personalities than they do real union leaders. The attempt to organize reality editors in what can only be described as throwing the pin instead of the grenade only served to solidify complaints that while the current leadership is itching for a fight, they've never actually been in one, much less won a fight in their entire lives.

With a strike almost guaranteed this fall, or sometime before the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild of America contracts expire next year, many of us are left wondering if we're better off not going down that road, because of the potential that we writers could strike, and still end up losing because of bad leadership.
Well, writers may take some level in comfort by watching how badly freaked out the other side is right now. I don't know much about the negotiating experience of Nick Counter, chief of the AMPTP, but it doesn't take a genius to read into his words that he hasn't been sleeping well, doesn't know what to do, and is generally at a loss as to how to deal with a union determined to fight to the death to get what they believe is a fair deal.

Thus far, WGA has stuck to its game plan of only making token gestures towards negotiating before their contract expires in October. Guild leaders believe if they wait until the summer days of next year roll in, they will have the opportunity to strike in unison with the Screen Actors Guild. This would make their current efforts to stockpile scripts useless.

Everybody knows what WGA wants: a fair residual structure and union coverage for minimum wages and health care contributions for digital content. We're talking webisodes and full television episodes sold and streamed digitally. The studios want to pay writers either no residuals at all, or only the same structure they are getting for DVDs and VHS (5 cents per DVD is the going rate.) Needless to say, writers won't tolerate that, and I don't think anyone outside of AMPTP thinks that's a fair rate.

But as I said, what is telling here is that Nick Counter is so publicly complaining about how the WGA is sticking to their game plan and putting off negotiations until a later time.

"With two months to respond to our proposals, we were once again rebuffed with little or no explanation," he added. "Seemingly, the WGA is much more concerned about posturing and their proposals, which only seek to vastly increase our costs and encumber our ability to adapt in this ever-changing time."

Counter knows why the guild is ignoring these proposals and are very simply sympathy whoring. He also knows that their proposal to scrap residuals altogether is a non-starter, as does everyone else in the industry. In fact, it's ironic for Counter to be accusing the WGA of not being serious while his side is the one throwing around what amounts to the "nuclear option" right off the bat. Talk about irresponsible and unprofessional.

Verrone (WGA Pres) should be really happy that he has the AMPTP so spooked, I just hope he is smart enough to take advantage of it.

Source: Variety


Related posts:

Leave a comment

View more stories by visiting the archives.

Media Pundit categories