Wednesday, November 07, 2007

TAG Dragged in Sideways ...

... into the Writers Guild/AMPTP battle.

As I've written previously, the WGA has changed their early draft strike rules regarding animation writers -- for which kudos.

Today, the AMPTP ran the following ad in VARIETY and The Hollywood Reporter:

Attention All Feature Animation Writers:

As a result of a legal challenge brought by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the Writers Guild of America has revised its Strike Rules regarding writing for animated feature films.

The WGA Strike Rules now permit WGA members to write for animated features that are covered by a collective bargaining agreement with another union (e.g. IATSE and/or IATSE Local 839) without being fined or discimplined.

Our position all along has been, WGA has control of its jurisdiction. We have control of ours. The day that one labor organization disciplines its members for working under another labor organization's contract, is the day that lawsuits will fly with a carefree abandon.

Having said that, we don't for a moment believe that the AMPTP has all of a sudden become our friend. We just happen to agree on one issue.

Even a blind squirrel finds an occasional nut.

Update:The press speculates if writers on strike will turn to animation writing while live action is off-limits. If history is any guide (the '88 strike), some scribes will switch over, but there's only so many 'toon writing gigs ...

Cartoon characters may come to the aid of striking Hollywood screenwriters if the Writers Guild of America's two-day-old walkout turns out to be prolonged.

Most animated shows are covered by a different union from the Writers Guild and are unaffected by the WGA strike. In addition, the WGA has withdrawn objections to its members working in animation...

We've gotten a smattering of complaints that a few WGA writers on staff at IA animated shows are having difficulty juggling their eight-hour days in animation land with their picketing duties. We're told that studio insists on staff writers showing up, while at the same time the WGA wants four-hour picketing shifts ... and that ducking picketing duty could result in a fine ...


Anonymous said...

Strike rule 10 reads -

"In the event of a strike, Guild members will be called upon to picket at specific locations and/or to perform other vital strike support duties, such as making or answering telephone calls or e-mail at strike headquarters. Absent a valid medical excuse, non writing employment, compelling personal circumstances [necessary child or elder care] or emergency, you are obligated to perform these duties when and where requested. If there is a personal circumstance making strike support duties impossible when requested, members are required to arrange alternate times to contribute to the strike effort."

Maybe somebody can check me on this, but I interpret that as a sign of some flexibility when it comes to having a day job covered by another union. As someone in this situation, I was out there for the first two days for the full four, working on animation duties in the morning and at night. Today I could only do a lunch hour on the line, but I am hoping good faith counts for something.

Steve Hulett said...

I don't believe it's a problem for many writers, but we have received, as I say, a frew reports.

I don't think this is a major deal. Certainly it shouldn't be.

Anonymous said...

I have to vent a bit here-somewhat OT, but not quite:

I support the WGA's position, period. If I were able, I'd happily grab a sign and jump in line for a turn, just as a fellow union person(even if we are only lowly IATSE).
But yesterday I was trying to dive onto the Southside lot. Trying, because a group of about 40 picketers was walking back & forth acrioss the entrance on Riverside. Well, that's what picketing is, right? No problem. In fact, rather than plow through the ranks I waited deliberately to let the bunch march in front of my car with my rear end hanging out onto Riverside Dr.; at first the front man waited to see if I was going to drive through them, but I waved him on with a smile.
By this time cars were starting to back up onto the street--animator's cars--so I finally started to pull forward as the last two picketeers walked past me. To my amazement, these two women, as I started forward, flashed me a nasty look and literally turned and jumped in front of my moving SUV! I easily could have bumped them both, which obviously wouldn't be cool for them or me. Since i had to suddenly hit the brakes hard to keep from tapping these fools, I could have been rear-ended, too. I shook my head and mouthed, "No, don't do that!" to these two, who stood in front of my vehicle and sneered at me.

Believe me, at that point, although I certainly still support the WGA, I was itching to deck these two twerps. I don't know what "rules" apply to strikers, but I was scared and furious at the stupid behaviour-not to mention that I hardly look or drive like an ABC exec, for pity's sake. I'm on their side!
I really wanted to complain to whoever was "in charge" of the picketing, but I had a meeting I was going to be late for. Anyway, behaving like that is dangerous and sure as hell doesn't make any friends among the sympathetic.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about that situation. I'm sure it would irritate me as well. I sometimes feel that picketers think that everyone's lives should be put on hold cause they're on strike. Maybe that is the point. I dunno.


Let me be naive for a moment. What makes writers so special that they should be getting residuals anyway? I mean, there are tons of people that are pretty important to the process and they don't get squat. Don't most get paid pretty well already in salary form? Why are they entitled to residuals of any kind?

Anonymous said...

I don't mind protesting and striking. and believe me, the point is to make themselves heard and seen and show that working life doesn't(or shouldn't)go on as usual. I get that and support it.

BUT there's such a thing as a joyously fierce solidarity-attitude and a nasty, angry, belligerent one. Part of the strikers' aim is to create awareness and hopefully empathy-not engender contempt.
Deliberately jumping in front of my car is stupid on every level. That said, I'm sure-or I hope-that dummies like that are an exception on the picket lines-it's no fun picketing for hours and watching one's bank account empty, I know.

Writers want to avoid a special precedent being set BY THE PRODUCERS that disallows revenue for "new" media. The issue of others not getting squat is something else again. In fact, it's been explained to me that all of us IATSE members DO get something--but it's in the form of our pensions and benefits, which is better than "squat"(speaking as someone who's had squat/no medical or pension).

Anonymous said...

Has some of the best thoughts on the writer situation.

Anonymous said...

Evanier does have some of the best thoughts on the strike, but they're clearly from a union member's perspective. He's often so far to that extreme (something he doesn't do very often) that I sometimes I feel like I'm reading a blog from Tony Snow defending W.
In fact this whole strike is beginning to remind me of W's war (pretty ironic since I'm willing to bet most of them are anti-W).
Sure the studios need toppling, but it sure would be nice if the WGA had something more than greed on their side too.
I can't wait for the bumperstickers that say "I support the WGA because I'm an American!"

I hope they have a better exit strategy than W.

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