amandatt (amandatt) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,
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amandatt
ohnotheydidnt

tentative strike deal & letter to members

No, its not over yet but they're voting today on whether to give the members a 48-hour voting time frame for the new deal that will go through 2011.
FYI, the article is pretty long but if you want to read it...

Tentative Deal Seen for Writers

By MERISSA MARR
February 10, 2008 7:24 a.m.

Taking a major step toward ending a crippling three-month writers' strike, the Writers Guild of America said it had reached a "tentative deal" for a new three-year contract with the major Hollywood studios and television networks, and urged its members to accept it.

"We believe that continuing the strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike," the guild wrote in a letter to its 10,500 voting members overnight.

The guild was presenting the deal to television and movie writers in New York and Los Angeles Saturday. The writers' negotiating committee is scheduled to meet, and likely vote, on the deal Sunday.

If approved, thousands of striking writers could be back at work next week, putting a stop to a walkout that has thrown the entertainment industry into turmoil. A person familiar with the guild's plan said late Saturday that the WGA board would meet Sunday and decide on whether to authorize a quick, two-day vote of its members to determine if a strike order should be lifted. Giving writers a 48-hour window to vote on lifting the strike order would help alleviate concerns that the agreement was being pushed too rapidly by the guild's board.

At the New York meeting, which took place at the Crowne Plaza hotel in midtown Manhattan, hundreds of writers grilled Michael Winship, the president of the guild's east coast arm, for three hours. Sherry Goldman, a spokeswoman for the guild, said: "the mood in the room was very positive and supportive."

In Los Angeles, where writers gathered at the Shrine Auditorium -- a past home of the Academy Awards -- the deal was presented with the unanimous recommendation of the negotiating committee, and greeted with applause, according to a writer who described the audience as in "a buying mood." In at least once instance, there was a standing ovation.

In its letter, the guild said the strike, which began on Nov. 5, had taken an "enormous personal toll on our members and countless others" but that "much has been achieved."

"While this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success," said the letter, which was signed by Mr. Winship and Patric Verrone, president of the west coast board of the guild. "It is an agreement that protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery."

The strike has virtually halted scripted television production, gutted the Golden Globes award telecast and a number of other televised award events (while sparing others like the Screen Actors Guild awards and the Grammys with one-time exemptions), and threatened the traditional Academy Awards broadcast, scheduled for Feb. 24. It also has forced the delay or cancellation of a number of big-budget studio films.

The tentative deal is modeled largely on a contract reached last month by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the studios, although there are some key differences. The DGA agreement, which was announced Jan. 17, includes provisions to compensate directors for the use and reuse of their work on the Internet -- including content created specifically for the Web as well as traditional programs and films that are streamed online or made available by the companies for download. Other, more routine issues, including wage increases, were also covered by the DGA deal.

In discussions between the studios and the Writers Guild, one particular issue was the money a writer makes when a television show is streamed on the Internet with advertising. The writers won a 2% share of a distributor's gross in the third year of the contract. But the media companies scored their own victory by keeping a longer promotional window before the payments kick in. Other key points include jurisdiction for the guild over works written specifically for the Internet.

The strike began four days after the WGA's last contract expired as negotiations broke down between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the major Hollywood studios and TV networks. The two sides returned to the bargaining table in early December but talks fell apart again on Dec. 7, with each side hurling accusations that the other refused to bargain in good faith.

In mid-December, the AMPTP largely turned its attention to the DGA, which traditionally negotiates its own contract months before expiration. The DGA initially refrained from talking to the studios out of respect for its "sister guild." But as relations between the AMPTP and writers grew frostier, the DGA agreed to hold informal discussions with certain media executives such as Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger and News Corp. President Peter Chernin to agree the parameters for possible talks. The DGA and the studios started formal talks on Jan. 12 and announced a tentative deal a few days later.

At that time, the AMPTP said it would be willing to hold similar informal talks with the guild. As the WGA said it would first carefully scrutinize the DGA deal, divisions within the guild began to emerge. A number of top writers, including some so-called "showrunners," publicly and privately expressed approval of some elements of the deal negotiated by the directors. Other writers, also including some big names, have insisted the DGA got shortchanged on "new media" compensation issues and want to hold fast.

The writers' union started informal talks on Jan. 23. Messrs. Iger and Chernin again played a key role. As negotiations continued on Friday, the guild presented the broad outline of a deal to strike captains. A deal was finalized and the guild sent a letter to its members recommending the new contract in the early hours of Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), whose contract expires June 30, has been railing against the deal cut by the DGA saying it's not necessarily a good contract for the 120,000-member actors' union. It is unclear what course of action SAG will now take.

In its letter, the guild said: "We must support our brothers and sisters in SAG who, as their contract expires in less than five months, will be facing many of the same challenges we have endured." Noting the writers' "new collective power," the guild added: "there is much yet to be done and we intend to use all the techniques and relationships we've developed in this strike to make it happen."

The guild said its proposed contract would run through May 1, 2011.

Letter to Writers Guild Members
February 9, 2008 1:26 p.m.

Text of letter announcing tentative deal to members of the Writers Guild of America, dated Feb. 9.

To Our Fellow Members,

We have a tentative deal.

It is an agreement that protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery. It creates formulas for revenue-based residuals in new media, provides access to deals and financial data to help us evaluate and enforce those formulas, and establishes the principle that, "When they get paid, we get paid."

Specific terms of the agreement are described in the summary on our website and will be further discussed at our Saturday membership meetings on both coasts. At those meetings we will also discuss how we will proceed regarding ratification of this agreement and lifting the restraining order that ends the strike.

Less than six months ago, the AMPTP wanted to enact profit-based residuals, defer all Internet compensation in favor of a study, forever eliminate "distributor's gross" valuations, and enforce 39 pages of rollbacks to compensation, pension and health benefits, reacquisition, and separated rights. Today, thanks to three months of physical resolve, determination, and perseverance, we have a contract that includes WGA jurisdiction and separated rights in new media, residuals for Internet reuse, enforcement and auditing tools, expansion of fair market value and distributor's gross language, improvements to other traditional elements of the MBA, and no rollbacks.

Over these three difficult months, we shut down production of nearly all scripted content in TV and film and had a serious impact on the business of our employers in ways they did not expect and were hard pressed to deflect. Nevertheless, an ongoing struggle against seven, multinational media conglomerates, no matter how successful, is exhausting, taking an enormous personal toll on our members and countless others. As such, we believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike.

Much has been achieved, and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success. We activated, engaged, and involved the membership of our Guilds with a solidarity that has never before occurred. We developed a captains system and a communications structure that used the Internet to build bonds within our membership and beyond. We earned the backing of other unions and their members worldwide, the respect of elected leaders and politicians throughout the nation, and the overwhelming support of fans and the general public. Our thanks to all of them, and to the staffs at both Guilds who have worked so long and patiently to help us all.

There is much yet to be done and we intend to use all the techniques and relationships we've developed in this strike to make it happen. We must support our brothers and sisters in SAG who, as their contract expires in less than five months, will be facing many of the same challenges we have just endured. We must further pursue new relationships we have established in Washington and in state and local governments so that we can maintain leverage against the consolidated multinational conglomerates with whom we bargain. We must be vigilant in monitoring the deals that are made in new media so that in the years ahead we can enforce and expand our contract. We must fight to get decent working conditions and benefits for writers of reality TV, animation, and any other genre in which writers do not have a WGA contract.

Most important, however, is to continue to use the new collective power we have generated for our collective benefit. More than ever, now and beyond, we are all in this together.

Best,

Michael Winship

President

Writers Guild of America, East

Patric M. Verrone

President

Writers Guild of America, West


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