Friday, December 07, 2007

Not A Big Shock, But Still...


Just released from the WGA negotiating committee:


Today, after three days of discussions, the AMPTP came back to us with a proposal that included a total rejection of our proposal on Internet streaming of December 3.

They are holding to their offer of a $250 fixed residual for unlimited one year streaming after a six-week window of free use. They still insist on the DVD rate for Internet downloads.

They refuse to cover original material made for new media.

This offer was accompanied by an ultimatum: the AMPTP demands we give up several of our proposals, including Fair Market Value (our protection against vertical integration and self-dealing), animation, reality, and, most crucially, any proposal that uses distributor’s gross as a basis for residuals. This would require us to concede most of our Internet proposal as a precondition for continued bargaining. The AMPTP insists we let them do to the Internet what they did to home video.

We received a similar ultimatum through back channels prior to the discussions of November 4. At that time, we were assured that if we took DVD’s off the table, we would get a fair offer on new media issues. That offer never materialized.

We reject the idea of an ultimatum. Although a number of items we have on the table are negotiable, we cannot be forced to bargain with ourselves. The AMPTP has many proposals on the table that are unacceptable to writers, but we have never delivered ultimatums.

As we prepared our counter-offer, at 6:05 p.m., Nick Counter came and said to us, in the mediator’s presence: “We are leaving. When you write us a letter saying you will take all these items off the table, we will reschedule negotiations with you.” Within minutes, the AMPTP had posted a lengthy statement announcing the breakdown of negotiations.

We remain ready and willing to negotiate, no matter how intransigent our bargaining partners are, because the stakes are simply too high. We were prepared to counter their proposal tonight, and when any of them are ready to return to the table, we’re here, ready to make a fair deal.

John F. Bowman
Chairman, WGA Negotiating Committee
Contract 2007

Nikki Finke shows and tells all from both sides, HERE and THEN HERE.

People who are serious about negotiating don’t walk away from the negotiating table. No two ways about it, the Big Boys want this strike to continue.


Tim Thurmeier said...

Admittedly I know very little about what's going on, so if anyone would be kind enough to explain a couple things to which Nikki Finke posted.

1) The amptp said "They(WGA) demand full control over reality television and animation. In other words, they want us to make membership in their union mandatory to work in this industry - even though thousands of people in reality and animation have already chosen not to join the WGA."

--If this is true, is this a reasonable request by the WGA? I mean, as far as I know Rodriguez and Lucas and probably many more aren't in the DGA, but still get to make movies. So why should people be forced to be part of the WGA to work in reality or animation? Maybe I'm missing something here? Is the AMPTP lying about something?

2) They insist that writers receive a piece of advertising revenue - even though the producers that pay them don't receive any of this revenue in the first place.

--I guess I don't really get this one. Is the advertising budget something the producer looks after, and if so,why don't they get revenue from it, and why should writers?

And lastly, why don't below the line workers get residuals? Or do they? If not, I mean you can easily argue there would be no shows without writers, but just as easily you can say the same without below the line workers.

Maybe I'm missing something. I support the writers, if residuals are something that is common in hollywood, then by all means those working within it should be able to receive a fair share, but I'm frustrated by the negotiations because I can't tell who's being fair, and who isn't.

Anyone care to help me out?

wcdixon said...


All very valid questions and thoughts, so here's your assignment for the day:

Go read some more of Nikki Finke's archives, and then go over and read through Craig Mazin's Artful Writer site...then google a few of the questions you asked and see what you can find... and then...

Write up a post about a newbie Canadian writer/director's take on the WGA strike for your own blog...and I'll throw it a link if you've clearly put some time and thought into it.