SAG summary and WGA starts legal action against AMPTP

by Paul William Tenny

Between Variety at DHD, there's a lot of labor stuff going around that I haven't kept up with real well the past month or so, so this post is loaded with links and short summaries to different stories about SAG and the WGA. The two on-going themes here are pretty easy to follow: the WGA says the new media provisions they struck over aren't being honored, and SAG after working without a contract for six months is gearing up for a strike.
Take what you read on Variety with a grain of salt, that paper tends to favor the big media companies with their coverage since some of their advertising revenue typically comes from those companies.

Writers come first here since in reality they usually tend to come last in everything else.

WGA files for new arbitration (Variety)
Given how dishonest the AMPTP tends to be, it wasn't any big surprise after the temper tantrum they threw over the new media jurisdiction and residuals the WGA demanded and then struck to receive, that the studios and networks would try to find some way not to wiggle out of having to pay up. A complaint the WGA filed against the AMPTP alleges "nonpayment of new-media residuals for programs sold as electronic downloads, also known as electronic sell-through" dating back to 1971. The studios say that wasn't part of the agreement.

There are two other stories on DHD specifically about the new media residuals. One announcing the WGA filing for arbitration to compel the AMPTP companies to honor their contract (along with some other ripe stuff about SAG not being paid money owed because of the WGA strike when contracts where canceled), and dueling statements from the two parties which seems to indicate that only now have the majors beed proded into paying what it owes to writers.

Tyler Perry Studios And WGA Reach Agreement Mediated By NAACP (DHD)
Tyler Perry fired several writers from The House of Payne and was immediately slammed by the WGA for allegedly firing successful writers who were trying to organize. Perry repeatedly claimed that he couldn't afford union writers even though he just opened a brand new studio and all the other major talent on his show are union members already (SAG, DGA, etc.) Firing employees who are trying to organize is a violation of federal law. Nikki reported last week that Perry Studios agreed with sign the MBA and bring all writers under the WGA, but it looks like the fired writers are staying fired, even though this recent action doesn't seem to erase the illegal firings.

Most of this news comes from a single source: Deadline Hollywood, so take it for whatever you think it's worth.

SAG started reaching out to their members in early November, reminding everyone (as if they'd forget) that nobody may work for non-union productions. This came in advance of new talks between SAG and AMPTP at the behest of a federal negotiator which, as was the case with the WGA, went nowhere fast. Not too long after that, once it became clear that SAG was moving towards asking the membership to vote to authorize a strike, the AMPTP launched this press release which amounted to little more than one giant non sequitur. It doesn't really matter to SAG what deals the other unions got, they are entitled as an independent entity representing a unique workforce to negotiate their own deal regardless of any other matters.

A SAG email explaining strategy was met with a silly but thankfully short response that had this gem in it:

And [SAG] fails to explain why it makes sense to strike when SAG members will lose more during the first few days of the strike than they could ever expect to gain.

The only notable thing is that this is precisely the same thing that the AMPTP said during the WGA strike which is a laughable argument on its face. If the gains for new media would be so little, why is the AMPTP so strongly opposed to making the deal? And the hypocrisy is stunning since the WGA just initiated a legal battle arguing that the AMPTP isn't even paying the new media residuals it was talking about earlier this year that were supposedly so costly.

Subsequent days have seen this little play repeated over and over again. SAG demands that the AMPTP bargain in good faith, while the AMPTP just changes the subject.

Clearly the conglom CEOs have learned literally nothing after losing the WGA strike. Will they learn anything after SAG wipes the mat with them? Would the networks enjoy another "opportunity" to "change how they do business" and reset their schedules?

in Labor


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