Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Prognostication on the WGA Strike

Had occasion to talk to a Below-The-Line union rep Friday afternoon. He and I sort of have the same take on the Writers Guild job action:

The strike trundles on into 2008. No new WGA-AMPTP talks take place until ...

The Directors Guild negotiates with the AMPTP after the holidays. The talks will take slightly more or less than one month. The DGA will have more leverage than it's enjoyed in a while, because the Alliance will be very motivated to achieve a deal.

When an agreement is finally reached, that Directors Guild contract will become the template for new SAG and WGA agreements ...

If that agreement has the necessary elements in it that the Writers Guild of America feels it can live with, then the WGA will use it as the basis for its own rebooted negotiations in '08 (after the AMPTP talks to AFTRA; there's lots of union negotiations going on ...).

But if the DGA contract is unacceptable to the WGA, then the strike will go on, probably to April ... May ... July?

Before the late summer sun bakes WGA picketers to a golden brown, the Guild's rank and file will get restless. Pressure will build to get talks restarted. Backstair meetings will be held. And then the WGA will take a bunch of its proposals off the table (animation, reality, right to sympathy strikes), and a new agreement will be hammered out.

And ratified.

In the meanwhile, Nikki Finke will let us know how dastardly the studios are, United Hollywood will inform us how the conglomerates will soon split apart, and the AMPTP will charm us with the latest message on its website.

So far, the WGA is winning the public relations war against the AMPTP.

But PR doesn't matter a whole lot. Leverage does. And that will be on display in a So Cal conference room soon after the New Year, when the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers sit down to craft a new collective bargaining agreement.

Everything else? Internet and street theatre.


Anonymous said...

I come from a Union background-- both parents were members of entertainment Unions..My Dad always told me-- 'NEVER strike unless it's one you KNOW you can win.'
It's ALL about leverage..
While writers are, IMO, entirely correct in striking over New Media issues, they really F'd up by throwing other issues like reality and animation into the mix;
choosing to do so on the heels of what were deemed "substantive" talks over the original issue only a day before the talks broke down..
The economic domino effect in this town is already staggering, and many, many people, myself included, who have no direct say in any of this, may well be out of work for a very long time. While I have enormous respect for writers and their talent,I wish to God their strategy had been better thought out. I do know I'm not alone in my view on this.

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