There Was No Way This Strike Wasn't Going To Happen

by Paul William Tenny

For some odd reason, it seems that a number of WGA peeps are trying to do an end run around the leadership by dragging John Wells in to do some back channel negotiating. I'm no expert on unions, Wells, or much of anything for that matter, but I didn't need to read this page to know that Wells was a complete failure as President of the guild during his reign, that he screwed over his own people apparently, and that some elements within the guild would rather sit on the status quo than see gains made through a long and costly strike.

I empathize with them not wanting to endure a strike but that's just lame. Wells couldn't get the job done when he was running the show (no pun intended) but suddenly he can make an even tougher deal the second time around as a go between with absolutely no power whatsoever? No.
I think the deal is pretty clear, and has been for a while now: the producers have the power to end this now before it really gets rolling and had the power to stop it before it started by simply bargaining. Nobody is asking them to cough up half of all revenue here, I don't think anyone is even really asking them to budge at all. All anyone in the WGA wants (perhaps except for hard liners) is for them to just sit down and talk seriously about the issues which apparently hasn't happened in over three months time - not even once.

That it has come this far before the producers would do anything other than sit with their arms folded, holding their breath like seven-year-olds, tells you all you need to know about the outcome of Wells intervention. If they wanted to deal, it would have been done by now.

I tend to fall somewhere near Craig Mazen - even though I have nothing at stake here *now*, I probably will eventually - I don't want a strike, but I want a deal that's something better than what writers have right now. It doesn't have to be what the WGA is demanding or even what the majority of writers consider fair or something they deserve, it just has to be *something*.

I also agree that a strike is a failure no matter what the outcome is.

But since the producers won't budge, a strike is the only option. It's the only power a union ever really has, and to be clear here, I know the producers like to characterize WGA leadership as strike-happy during practically every negotiation that has ever taken place, but consider that it has been what, 19 years since the last real strike?

I'm sorry but that just doesn't wash. Different decade, same BS.

For what it's worth, I'm sure John Wells is a great guy for the most part, but he had his shot and he blew it. The current leadership isn't exactly doing much better, and the combination of the two doesn't inspire confidence in the least. This strike was predestined by past failures to make gains, empty strike threats, and execs that have gotten far too used to being able to get whatever they want without challenge.

Some people may disagree with that statement but it makes a lot of sense when you look at the big picture rather than just *this* negotiation. Every strike threat that went unfulfilled and every contract that saw no gains on the important issues emboldened the producers. Year after year it added up until they felt invincible, like they simply didn't have to negotiate anymore. Writers are the employees and they will do as they are told.


Even under perfect circumstances with the best negotiators, unanimous support from the membership and all the stars aligned just right, this was still going to happen. This year, three years from now, nine years from now, this was going to happen. When you win that many fights in a row, you just stop dealing completely.

That's where the producers are, and only a lengthy financially damaging strike (the upset win) is going to change it. And it's not about the win, really, it's not a contest of will or a battle for ego - it's about showing the drunk abusive husband that he's beat his wife one too many times, and he's about to get a knee in the nuts followed swiftly by a full can of mace in his eyes.

That's really all there is to it. The more you fail, the worse it gets until you stand up and make it stop. And it's sad that the issues are taking a back seat this, and I really think the big picture is what's fueling this fight from both ends.

As they say, nobody can win this - all that's left is to end it (the cycle.)
in Labor


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