Yes, it's finally over. Kind of.

by Paul William Tenny

The strike was called off by vote yesterday, which naturally happened while I was fending off an army of angry midgets with pitchforks that were laying siege to my little island of the Internet damned (it rained, then it was sunny, and finally, it snowed.) The reason I say "kind of" is that while the strike was called off and all writers are now formally allowed to go back to work (if they have work to go back to, and lets not forget that well over half of them do not) they will be working without a contract.

It'll be a week or possibly two before the vote on the contract will come down and while it seems extremely unlikely that it won't be ratified, I still think it's inappropriate to act as if everything is fine and cheery -- it's not.
According to the press release, the approval for ending the strike was slightly higher than it was for authorizing it: about 93%. That should leave little doubt that the contract will be approved, even though it still has problems that, based on how the AMPTP has acted with previous contract provisions and based on what it took to get these new ones, will never be revisited in the future.

News will flood in as it has already begun to about what shows will resume production immediately, trying to get out as many new episodes before the end of the "current" television season (already an artificial constraint related to absolutely nothing.)

According to E!, Saturday Night Live will be back by next weekend, although the scripted programming will take over a month to produce new content. For those not aware, from script to air takes about that long, even though you get to see one new episode every week, that's because at any given time, there are between 3-5 episodes being worked on in various stages of production, and each stage usually has more than one episode being worked on at a time.

Follow this link for more detailed information.

I will say this, and this was expected: NBC's Heroes is done for the season, but it was renewed along with both Chuck, and Life.

Nobody knows if SAG is going to be happy with the WGA contract, so they may end up having a strike of their own this summer yet. I don't think that'll happen, though it would be fantastic if SAG could leverage a better new media deal that would close the "promotional usage" window that has the networks making money for the first 17 days of streaming, while the writers and other talent get nothing.

Let there be no doubt that the AMPTP had no intention of giving the WGA a contract this good, and that it wouldn't have been possible without a strike. The same can be said of the DGA deal, that in fact what they got had little to do it. The DGA got what it got because of the WGA strike, as did the WGA for holding strong. SAG too will likely reap the benefits from the three months writers were walking the picket lines and wondering if they were going to lose their homes.

I'm sure some of them probably have already.

There is something else to consider. Because of the strike, the next contract will expire on a different date than the previous one did at the end of October. May 1st I think was the date, which would almost guarantee that the DGA would have a deal in place the next time around before the WGA will, making it impossible for them to interfere with the negotiations like they did this time around. That's good for the WGA and SAG -- the latter of whom will bargain much later even though their contract expires around the same time as the directors --  and really bad for the DGA, who has shown no ability to secure these kinds of gains on their own.

If another strike is necessary sometime down the road -- although I hope it isn't, history tells us it's almost a lock that it will be -- the DGA will not benefit from any gains made by the WGA, and with the dates so much closer three years from now, the chances that the next strike (be it in 3 years, 9, or 18 years from now) will be a double-header are better than at any point in history.

One must wonder, based on the WGA getting almost everything it asked for that was considered of paramount importance, why the AMPTP didn't simply bargain in good faith from the outset and avoid this mess in the first place. Was their arrogance and stubbornness worth the financial losses which hurt them far worse than it did the writers really worth it?

Are they happy now with the precedent they've set? The AMPTP went into these negotiations to play hardball, win, and make the WGA look bad all at the same time, but ended up losing and looking like adolescent amateurs instead. The precedent for victory and momentum is clearly on the WGA's side from here on out.
in Labor


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