Saturday, February 09, 2008

WGA East/West Has a Deal

Looks to me like the Writers Guilds of America, East and West, have themselves a deal.

Looks to me like it's a kissing cousin of the DGA deal (time will tell) and that the WGA Neg Comm is advocating its ratification:

... we believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike.

Much has been achieved, and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success ...

None of this should surprise anybody. The way this went down was, the "difficult" WGA (difficult for the AMPTP) negotiated to a stand-still back in December. The Alliance walked out to work a deal with the DGA (more "reasonable" but still tough).

The DGA had a brisk wind at its back thanks to the Writers Guild strike. The congloms were motivated to make a deal because the strike hurt. (They weren't going to give away everything on the dry goods shelves and back in the store room, but the corporations bent farther than they would have liked to.)

Once the deal was done, the end-game was pretty predictable. The corporations weren't going to do a hugely different agreement for the WGA, because they had a precedent. They did some tweaking. And they took mean old Nick Counter out of the negotiating equation, replacing him with the non-demonized CEOs Iger and Chernin.

And they negotiated, pretty much, the agreement the Directors Guild walked away with.

So what happens now? The road map seems pretty clear: the WGA membership will ratify, although various people will be complaining. AFTRA will negotiate a deal. The IATSE will negotiate a deal.

And SAG will be unhappy. They will state that the other unions' agreements can't be the template for them, because their needs are different, that they'll have to get more and better, etc.

But they will, when the dust particles float back to earth, negotiate a similar agreement to DGA, WGA, AFTRA, and IATSE.

It's pattern bargaining, and the way of the world. Like it or not, we must deal with it.

Update 1: And WGA East has had their meeting, and it appears that the majority are okay with the agreement:

New York -- More than 500 WGA East members poured in to a ballroom at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Manhattan on Saturday afternoon to debate the draft agreement reached by producers and writers early Saturday morning, in what was the writers guilds first test of the proposed labor agreement.

The session, which lasted nearly three hours, didn't result in any concrete resolution. But leadership said they were encouraged by what they called a very positive response to the proposed agreement, a development which increases the likelihood that leadership on Sunday would recommend that the board approve the deal.

"I think the meeting went very well," said WGA East president Michael Winship, who noted that he thought there were more members at this meeting than at the one authorizing a strike three months ago. "There was a frank discussion of ideas, and everyone who wanted to ask a question got to ask a question."

I'm betting that a) the good east coast meeting will be atopic at the Shrine meeting here in L.A., and b) the thrust will also be positive on the Left Coast.

Update 2: Screenwriter/blogger John August weighs in on the deal, and finds it acceptable:

So is this deal, today, good enough to accept?

It’s a yes for me. And I suspect it’s a yes for most writers. Some would shout yes emphatically, with a victory dance around a giant picket bonfire. Others would mutter yes with a forlorn shrug of their shoulders, deeply dissatisfied yet not able to rationalize a no vote. I’m somewhere in-between. I don’t think it’s great — hell, it’s not even “good” — but it’s honestly better than I thought we’d get.

And WGA member Mark Evanier live blogs from the festivites at the Shrine Auditorium:

Hello from inside the Writers Guild meeting where some of us are getting a bit weary of leaping to our feet for standing ovations. That's about the extent of the negatives so far...and while no vote has been taken (I'm not sure any votes will be taken this evening) the sense of the room is quite celebratory ...

So. Unless I'm missing something, it appears that the WGA Strike Circa 2007-2008 is pretty close to being history.


Anonymous said...

Just got back from the Shrine...pretty much a love-fest. Very impressive presentation, with all the Neg Com on stage...GIANT screen TV...lots of clapping. But, after almost 4 months of striking...the thousands of WGAers were treated to "Costco" cookies and coffee in vats...seriously! When I left, I stopped at Burger King for a post-strike combo meal...I'm just saying. Cheers, Bob

Steve Hulett said...

I'm glad it's over, as I'm sure you are. As I'm sure live action workers and artists on the Fox shows are.

My hope now is that SAG can reach a deal without a lengthy strike.

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