Friday, October 12, 2007

The DEFINITELY Coming Writers' Strike...

That's my prediction, anyway.

I've been looking at the dynamics of this situation -- as expressed by trade press, chatty studio labor reps, and writers -- and I don't think there's any way around it.

The scribes are going to hit the bricks. The gulf between the parties is wide, and it's not narrowing in any discernible way. Plus the WGA's contract term ends on October 31.

And my guess is that a strike will happen sooner rather than later, since the WGA wants to throw the AMPTP a hard curve. Conventional Wisdom has been that the Writers Guild would wait to go out when the Screen Actors Guild strikes. But leaders of WGAw appear to believe the better strategy is to strike before the companies are completely ready for a job action. (They're not necessarily wrong.)

I've shot my over-active mouth off to reporters who've called about the WGA-AMPTP wrestling match, and about the WGA's strike rules blocking dual-card writers from negotiating animation deals. And I've been quoted saying this:

"Any union can discipline their members for violations of internal rules and policy. But I can't imagine our union [TAG] attempting to prevent someone from joining and working for another union. So good luck to them..."

Also this:

"When somebody is performing work under a union's jurisdiction and contract, I don't believe that any other union has the right to punish members for performing that work..."

So why would I say the second thing? Because the WGAw has as much license to punish members for being in another union and performing that union's work as we do to fine animation writers' from being WGA members and writing on ER or Heroes during a cartoonists' strike.

Which is to say, none.

But I understand why the WGA is taking the position it is regarding dual cardholders writing animation: it wants all the leverage it can get, because leverage is what win's negotiations. Not high-minded morality. Not truth and goodness and light. Just muscle.

Now. I want the WGA to get the best contract it can. I want it to get a good deal on downloads over the internet and on mobile devices. I wish for the Guild to secure better DVD percentages and higher wages.

The problem is, I don't think blocking writers from writing animation holds up legally. The first writer that challenges a WGA fine or other punishment over the issue will most likely be supported by a judge.

But it will never get to that. When the strike is over, three or six or ten months after it begins, the producers will have "amnesty" as one of their contract settlement demands.

What amnesty means is, anyone who crossed the picket line during the strike, anyone who wrote live-action or animation, will have to be given a full and complete pardon by the WGA.

And the WGA will swallow and say "okay." Because they'll have lots of members eager to go back to work. And few will be willing to stay out over the Guild's refusal to agree to amnesty.


Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

Just bought Jungle Book today and watching the opening credits I saw yer dads name. I thought that was kinda cool.

Keep up the good work.

Site Meter