Friday, October 19, 2007

A Strike Rule Analysis

I know that this is getting beaten to powder, but since I am still getting inquiries (even after all the previous posts) about TAG's position on animation writing during a possible WGA strike, let me analyze and comment on the WGA's Strike Rule below:

First. The WGA's Strike Rules inform members that they can't perform work on struck writing, not submit "spec" material, and so on.

Second. The part of the Strike Rules that TAG is focussed on:

The Rules apply to (1) all network primetime animated series covered by a WGA contract ...

Neither TAG, nor, I assume, the IATSE, has any problem with the above. It's WGA-covered work. So the WGA is within its rights to strike that work if its members choose to do so. Any union or guild in its position would have the same right. But to continue:

... and (2) contracts for writing services in connection with fully animated theatrical features negotiated or entered into during the strike. Writers are advised to consult with WGA staff to determine whether animation writing is prohibited before performing any writing services. Members should assume that projects combining live action and animation, and live action-based processes such as motion capture, are covered by the Strike Rules.

The WGA is being sort of crafty here. If it's a fully animated feature under a WGA contract, again no problem. The Writers Guild isn't explicit, so we can't say with certainty which fully animated features it's referring to here. A non-represented feature? (That is, no union contracts covering the film.) That's an internal matter between the WGA and its members.

Howsoever. Fully animated features under Animation Guild and other IATSE contracts? Ixnay no way. The WGA can't demand its members do anything regarding this work. It's none of the WGA's business who works on, or negotiates for work on, or begins work on an IATSE or TAG feature. Why? Because it's not work within the WGA's jurisdiction. So the WGA has no say, zero, nada, over writers that negotiate of work on IA-covered animated features.

The IATSE does.

So, when the WGA says it prohibits WGA members from negotiating for work on an IA animated feature during the strike, the prohibition is unenforceable. First time the WGA gets hauled into court over this, the WGA loses (or so believes every lawyer I've talked to. And I've talked to lots.)

Last item. "The WGA advises..." If "advising" equals "suggesting" (and that's the way I interpret the word), then okay. Suggest away. But any writer who doesn't want to follow the "advice"? They have every right to do as they choose.

Last last item. As to work on non-WGA television animation, the WGA doesn't even bring up the subject of writing or not writing on this type of work.


Anonymous said...

Aren't unions supposed to *support* each other during a strike, by going out TOGETHER?

The lack of solidarity between WGA and TAG is childish, pathetic and depressing. I would expect better.

Anonymous said...

Do you really so misunderstand the way unions work that you think when one union strikes, that the rest are expected to also strike?!? Back in '79 and '82, did the WGA go out when Local 839 went on strike? (The answer is 'no.') If the WGA strikes on Nov.1, are the DGA and SAG and the Teamsters going out, too? (Again, the answer is 'no.') Get a clue.

And when the WGA is constantly providing misinformation about TAG, and constantly trying to raid a jurisdiction that Local 839 has had for over 50 years, who exactly is being childish and pathetic?

Steve's posts here about the WGA "negotiating" efforts have been remarkably balanced. Is it his fault that he's pointing out the potentially illegal strike rules the WGA is creating for dual card holders?

Steve Hulett said...

Aren't unions supposed to *support* each other during a strike, by going out TOGETHER?

It would be nice if unions could all strike together, but legally (as a commenter says above) it isn't possible. There are collective bargaining agreements now in force that contain "no strike" clauses.

The lack of solidarity between WGA and TAG is childish, pathetic and depressing..

Welll ... the WGA is instructing WGA writers to not take work on "animated features" during any prospective strike. Yet some of those features are under another labor organization's jurisdiction.

Where, exactly, does the WGA get off telling a writer what work she or he can accept under another union's collective bargaining agreement?

And not to put too fine a point on it, but when I walked TAG's picket lines for 2 1/2 months in the early eighties, those lines were crossed by other IA locals, SAG, the DGA ... and the WGA.

Do you also find that "childish, pathetic and depressing"?

Just asking.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Guess I read too much into the word "union". My bad. Carry on.

Anonymous said...

I love trolls who don't let facts and reality interfere with their world view. Just to reiterate, the original poster's belief about what unions are "supposed" to do, and what the word "union" means, doesn't have anything to do with how unions actually work.

Painting the fact that other unions (TAG, DGA, SAG, Teamsters, etc.) will NOT be going out when the WGA goes out isn't a lack of union solidarity -- it's simply how things work in the real world. Unions with valid CBAs in place and valid no-strike clauses in place cannot walk out, no matter how much they may sympathize with the issues of the WGA.

And the WGA's contract demand that animation writers not perform work under TAG's jurisdiction is the exact opposite of labor solidarity and union-union respect, though it is indeed pathetic, childish, and depressing.

Anonymous said...

This is all very interesting. I'm a WGA member and I've written feature animation. I have no idea if it was under a TAG contract, but if it was, no one told me (I do know that it was not under a WGA contract, though I was paid WGA minimums plus 5%, which appear to be substantially higher than TAG rates, though I may be reading it wrong). I too question my Guild's strike rules on this one, but what is perhaps more interesting is that at least one company that appears to be a signatory to the TAG contract (based on the contract posted online) is assuming that the strike rules are valid and has planned accordingly. So whether or not they can do this, saying that they will do it has affected opportunities for writers at at least one major studio. Btw, if the TAG minimums really are lower than the WGA minimums, then it would benefit writers to have animation covered under the WGA contract. Of course, that ain't gonna happen, but I think it should. After all, writing live action and writing animation uses the same skillset and writers working in both formats should be guaranteed the same minimum earnings. To do otherwise suggests that animation writers are somehow lesser writers than live action writers. And since some people work, or have worked, in both mediums, this can't possibly be true.

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