Scribes walk off Sony show over labor jurisdiction

by Paul William Tenny

Nikke Finke brought it to our attention on Thursday that writers for a new Fox animated comedy called Sit Down, Shut Up!, walked off production in a dispute over which union would cover their services: the Writers Guild of America (WGA) or International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). I don't know very much about this fight other than that IATSE traditionally covers animation writers, even though writing is clearly not their territory to cover when there's a freaking Writers Guild in the room, and that said guild wants jurisdiction from them.

Studios apparently want everything they can get covered by IATSE because it's a weaker union that gets them talent for cheaper pay and fewer benefit sinkholes, so no surprises there. The dispute here is whether the writers knew from the beginning that they were going to be covered by IATSE, or if Sony strung them along for several months telling them they'd get WGA coverage if they wanted it, only to turn it over at the very last minute after a lot of work has already been done and investments made.

For their part, Sony is being a child about this instead of gaining some much needed goodwill from the writers that they need to make this show successful, while the trades are spinning it in favor over their corporate masters -- so no surprises there either. The fact that these writers were working without a contract and without pay as a favor to Sony to get this show off the ground as fast as possible, only to find out that Sony was going to screw them by sticking them with a light-weight guild tells you everything you need to know about what this fight is all about.

There's probably a pretty good lesson in there somewhere about not working without a contract, too.

But it'd be great to see the writers win this one and continue the precedent of having all of Fox's major animated shows covered by the WGA -- especially to take some territory from a union that should have had it int he first place -- but even if that doesn't happen, it's still nice to see them fight for it. These companies need to understand that writers are going to fight for this stuff and that they need to dump that AMPTP "I can push everyone around" attitude that lost them the WGA strike, and may lose them a SAG strike as well. How many times do those guys have to kick a brick wall before learning that working with people is better than
screwing with them all day?
in Labor, Television


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Yes, please Paul, on the further coverage of SAG and AMPTP.

I think for quite a few of the younger readers, it will be a real eye-opener on the shenanigans involved with union negotiations.

We owe so many of our benefits -- 8 hr workday and 40 hr work weeks for example -- to the unions. They fought -- literally and many union members died -- beginning in the 30's for worker's rights.

And not only in the US - but around the world.


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