There's been some lively back and forth in comments below, but I wanted to address in more detail the post that got the ball rolling in the first place because some folks still don't get it.
But to scroll back to the opening act, Nikki Finke wrote on her website:
Sony is taking away [the writer's] right to be repped by the WGA's new contract. This is exactly what WGA leadership was afraid would happen to toon writers as more Big Media companies turn animation over to IATSE's jurisdiction because of the weaker terms of that union's contract.
To be transparent about this, I have no problem with Ms. Finke's reporting ... when she actually reports. But at the point she starts slinging charges and accusations with minimal factual underpinning, I take exception. To wit:
... By all accounts, the studio played fast and loose with the facts from the start. "Bill, Josh and Hurwitz all took Sony's statements in good faith that the show would be guild-covered," one of the writers told me tonight. "Because Sony was saying up and down the line that they were waiting for the pickup before signing with the WGA." Nor did the writers/producers have any reason to disbelieve the studio since a previous Sony animated TV show, Dilbert, had been under the WGA's jurisdiction.
And then IATSE's Local 839 -- the so-called Animation Guild Local (formerly Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists) -- arrived to everyone's shock and dismay ...
Shock and dismay. Satan's drooling spawn shows up and ruins the party, and heartache is rampant.
Let me explain in boring detail why Ms. Finke is full of it. Ten years ago, the writers on Dilbert were not part of Sony Adelaide. Sony had the scribes in a separate, non-signator company, and the WGA had every legal right to go in and organize them, and did. Cheers for the W.G.A.
But that isn't the case with the current situation. This time around (unless I'm misinformed) the writers are under Sony Adelaide, Sony's longtime t.v. animation division. And there's a horrid, unfair Federal law that prevents the W.G.A. from riding in and "organizing" writers who are, from a legal standpoint, already organized because they're working under a pre-existing union contract.
Now let me tell you about Adelaide and that pre-existing contract.
The division was set up in 1995, headed by Mark Taylor (currently at Nickelodeon) and Sander Schwartz (more recently at Warner Bros. Animation). TAG began an organizing drive with Sony Adelaide in the late summer of 1996. We set up lunches for employees with President Tom Sito, I went down to the front of the studio, stood on the sidewalk on passed out cards, the whole usual organizing routine that any grizzled labor person performs over and over and knows oh-so-well.
By Fall 1996, we had a majority of Representation cards, and filed a petition for recognition. All this took place before the WGA represented one animation writer anywhere.
Long story short: After lengthy jousting with Sony, after protracted negotiations, we signed a collective bargaining agreement in April, 1997. And from that day to this, we've represented Adelaide's writers, board artists, designers, background artists, all the people we've repped in animation since TAG's formation in 1952.
Meanwhile, the WGA represented nobody in animation. (It signed its Fox deal later that same year -- 1997).
But of course, in Ms. Finke's mind, we're the interlopers: "the so-called Animation Guild Local (formerly Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists) -- arrived to everyone's shock and dismay ..."
Right. We just crawled out from under our rock and snatched the chocolate cake from the writers' mouths. And it's pretty much our fault -- by implication -- that Sony strung these writers along. Problem is, had anybody picked up the phone and asked, we could have told them the reality: You can't throw a long-standing agreement out simply because somebody working under that agreement doesn't like it.
So here's a request to Nikki Finke: you want to be a reporter rather than a propagandist, pick up the phone and call the organization you're slandering for a comment prior to the smear. At least then you'll present the illusion of objectivity.