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Understanding the Writers Guild of America Strike

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As the Writers Guild of America (WGA) - initiated strike now enters its seventh week, the strike’s economic consequences are growing more severe by the day. The below-the-line workers whose families depend entirely on our industry have already lost more than $200 million in the Los Angeles area alone, and the health care benefits for many of these families are now in real jeopardy because of the WGA strike. The working writers themselves have now lost more than $115 million, and these writers are no closer today to getting their fair share of new media revenues than they were when the strike began.

 

The Writers Guild of America is a generic term referring to the joint efforts of two different US labor unions:

 

The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), representing TV & Film writers around New York City.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAw), representing TV & Film writers in Hollywood and southern California.

 

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is a trade association based in Encino, California that represents over 350 American film production companies and studios in negotiations with entertainment industry trade unions in collective bargaining. The AMPTP was founded in 1982 and negotiates 80 industry-wide collective bargaining agreements on behalf of over 350 motion picture and television producers (member companies include studios, broadcast networks, certain cable networks and independent producers).

 

The Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), acting upon the authority granted them by their memberships, voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Monday, November 5.

 

The decision was made following over three months of negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers . To date, the studios have not responded to a single one of the WGA's important proposals, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs, and jurisdiction.

 

Remarks from WGAW President Patric M. Verrone - 11-2-07

 

The Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, West and the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East, acting upon the authority granted them by the members, have voted unanimously to call a strike effective 12:01 AM, Monday, November 5.

 

As many of you know, three weeks ago the Members of the Writers Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if we could not reach a fair and reasonable deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

 

To avoid this outcome, we have been engaged in negotiations for more than three months to resolve our differences.

 

Over that time, we dropped nine of our proposals in the interest of reaching a resolution.

 

However, the studios have not responded to a single one of our important proposals. Every issue that matters to writers, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs, and jurisdiction, has been ignored.

 

In recent years, these conglomerates have enjoyed tremendous financial success off the backs of literally tens of thousands of people - including members of the creative community. One part of that community is the writers, whose work serves as the blueprint for programs and movies.

 

And, although the industry's pie is continually growing, our share continues to shrink.

 

Rather than address our members' primary concern, the studios made it clear that they would rather shut down the town than reach a fair and reasonable deal. This past Wednesday, the AMPTP called a halt to talks by demanding that the Guild accept the extension of the current DVD formula to new media.

 

This is not an action that anyone takes lightly. But it slowly became apparent that the studios are not prepared to deal fairly with writers and the rest of the talent community.

 

The companies have refused to agree that writers must receive fair compensation when the writers' work is broadcast on the Internet or downloaded on iPods and cell phones.

 

The companies are seeking to take advantage of new technology to drastically reduce the residual income that sustains middle class writers and keeps them in the business. Their proposals would destroy the very pool of creative talent that is the basis of their immense revenues and profits.

 

Twenty years ago, the companies forced writers to accept an unfairly low residual for home videos so that the market could grow. And, even though those markets did grow to become an extremely profitable revenue stream, the residuals never did.

 

The fact is there was no need for conflict on this issue - the companies are doing very well in the marketplace. As the chairman of one of the Big Six media conglomerates recently stated, the Internet is a source of additional income. Television and film sales to the Internet have not to date cannibalized viewers from broadcast and cable. And the economics of digital distribution are even more favorable than the economics of DVDs. Digital has no hard media costs, no boxes, no marginal extra shipping and handling. The only substantial economic issue for Internet reuse is the residual payment to directors, actors, and writers.

 

That is why our position is simple and fair: when a writer's work generates revenue for the companies, that writer deserves to be paid.

 

For the creative community, for the city of Los Angeles, and for all viewers who have come to appreciate our work product, we are sorry that the studios have put us where we are.

 

We are committed to seeing this through and are willing to engage in any further discussions if the studios so desire.”

 

Remarks from WGAE President Michael Winship - 11-2-07

 

“As Patric has said, the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East today joined the Writers Guild West Board and unanimously approved the Negotiating Committee's recommendation to strike.

 

This is not a decision we take lightly. In fact, we make it with great sadness. There is still time and a deal to be made before this strike begins. We urge the studios and networks to come back and bargain fairly.”

 

AMPTP walked away from the bargaining table on December 7, rather than negotiate a fair agreement for writers. NBC forcing Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien back on the air without writers is not going to provide the quality entertainment that the public deserves. The only solution to the strike is a negotiated settlement of the issues. If the AMPTP won't come to the table, then it's time for responsible companies to come forward and negotiate a fair deal.”

 

A message from Late Show writer Bill Scheft....

 

Quickly, lest you think we are a bunch of spoiled brats just looking for a raise, the big issue, money from original content shown on the Internet and other new media, is our way of replacing the money we are losing over the disappearing residuals. Residuals are not a bonus. They are the way writers live when they are between jobs. The standard writers contact is up for renewal every 13 weeks. You can have a five- year contract, but they can let you go every 13 weeks without paying you any more as long as they give you a month's notice. That is the deal we all enter into. There are 12,000 writers in the guild. You need to make $30,000 a year in guild earnings to keep your health insurance. Last year, 6000 didn't reach that figure. Half.

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Guest human_*

I hope the writers guild wins. Christ!!!! even politicians need writers as well.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As the Writers Guild of America (WGA) - initiated strike now enters its seventh week, the strike’s economic consequences are growing more severe by the day. The below-the-line workers whose families depend entirely on our industry have already lost more than $200 million in the Los Angeles area alone, and the health care benefits for many of these families are now in real jeopardy because of the WGA strike. The working writers themselves have now lost more than $115 million, and these writers are no closer today to getting their fair share of new media revenues than they were when the strike began.

 

The Writers Guild of America is a generic term referring to the joint efforts of two different US labor unions:

 

The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), representing TV & Film writers around New York City.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAw), representing TV & Film writers in Hollywood and southern California.

 

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is a trade association based in Encino, California that represents over 350 American film production companies and studios in negotiations with entertainment industry trade unions in collective bargaining. The AMPTP was founded in 1982 and negotiates 80 industry-wide collective bargaining agreements on behalf of over 350 motion picture and television producers (member companies include studios, broadcast networks, certain cable networks and independent producers).

 

The Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), acting upon the authority granted them by their memberships, voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Monday, November 5.

 

The decision was made following over three months of negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers . To date, the studios have not responded to a single one of the WGA's important proposals, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs, and jurisdiction.

 

Remarks from WGAW President Patric M. Verrone - 11-2-07

Remarks from WGAE President Michael Winship - 11-2-07

AMPTP walked away from the bargaining table on December 7, rather than negotiate a fair agreement for writers. NBC forcing Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien back on the air without writers is not going to provide the quality entertainment that the public deserves. The only solution to the strike is a negotiated settlement of the issues. If the AMPTP won't come to the table, then it's time for responsible companies to come forward and negotiate a fair deal.”

 

A message from Late Show writer Bill Scheft....

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Guest LAW_*

Regular Late Night Viewers Shop Around but WGA Strike Creates No New Winners for Other Programs or Other Media.

The television programming most affected by the Writer’s Strike is the late night talk shows. Many of these shows have been in reruns since the strike began on November 5th. Did the regular late night viewers go on strike with the writers? Did they switch to radio, go to the movies, or switch off the TV?

 

Using data from IMMI panel members in six cities, and comparing viewing patterns for the two weeks preceding the strike with the two weeks after, we can see how regular late night viewers responded to the reruns. For the study we classified any panel member who watched any of The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report at least four times during the two week period before the strike as a “regular” late night viewer.

 

• Before the strike these regular late night talk show viewers watched an average of 21.7 minutes of all late night television. After the strike they watched a statistically nearly identical 20.8 minutes.

 

• The many regular late night talk show viewers who left the talk shows scattered to other programming: syndicated, movies, sports, etc. So although the number of them viewing late night talk shows dropped, the number viewing late night programming did not drop.

 

• The strike had almost no effect on radio listening for these regular late night viewers. 24% listened to late night radio before the strike, 23% after the strike.

 

• Not a single IMMI panel member classified as a regular late night viewer went out to a late movie (even one that started earlier in the evening), so any hoped for boost there is probably a bust.

 

http://www.immi.com/marketTests.html

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This simple video explains it all.

 

 

 

The heart of the issue for striking writers is securing payments from DVD sales and "new media" such as internet downloads of television programs, which most industry experts believe will become the dominant delivery platform within a decade.

 

Maybe we should look at the strike is an opportunity for Americans all over the country to get off their couches and do something more productive with our lives.

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Guest jokeitch

I am very disappointed in WGA leadership today. Months of walking the picket lines, costing jobs, costing deals, ruining the Hollywood economy, causing hardship, losing health insurance. Vote No! this Tuesday.

 

 

I am are pleased to inform you that this morning the WGA Negotiating Committee unanimously and unconditionally recommended the terms of the proposed 2008 MBA to the WGAW Board and WGAE Council. The Board and Council then voted unanimously to recommend the contract, and to submit it to the joint membership of WGAW and WGAE for ratification. The ratification vote will take place over the next few weeks by mail ballot and at a special membership meeting. You will receive ballot materials and a notice of informational meetings during the next week.

 

There is, however, another issue to address: whether to lift the restraining order, and end the strike, during the ratification process. We are asking the members to decide this issue. A vote will take place on Tuesday, February 12, 2008. A yes vote means you are voting to end the strike immediately; a no vote means you are voting to continue the strike during the ratification process. Ballots can be cast at the Guild Theater from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. If you aren't able to cast a ballot in person, proxy ballots can be downloaded at http://www.wga.org/contract_07/proxy-2008.pdf and faxed. Proxy ballots and voting instructions are at wga.org. Until the votes are counted, we are still on strike. We will announce the vote count on Tuesday night.

 

There will be no picketing Monday or Tuesday: all pickets are suspended until the WGA membership votes to either end or continue the strike.

 

Thank you for your solidarity and support. We are all in this together.

 

Best,

 

Patric M. Verrone

President, WGAW

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