A quantity of you have asked what my position is on the dispute in between the WGA and talent/literary agencies. Also my thoughts on the existing election of WGA officers – an election that will be decided primarily based on the members feelings of that standoff and the way it is becoming handled.
So here’s my position.
The Guild is attempting to do a heroic factor – get significant agencies to quit producing extra dollars off their writer consumers than the writers are producing themselves. By cleverly instituting “package deals” the agencies get a larger share of the pie than writers regardless of the truth that the writers do all the operate. And some agencies have formed their personal production businesses. Can you see exactly where that may possibly be a massive conflict of interest? If an agent is negotiating a deal for you at their production organization the agent is negotiating against himself.
Writers now operate for agencies rather of the other way about.
A related circumstance occurred in the 1960’s when talent agency MCA also owned Universal. Then-Lawyer Basic Robert Kennedy mentioned that was illegal and broke it up. (The organization chose to preserve the studio and unload the agency — a smart option.) The WGA is going to Federal Court to attempt to get the identical outcome. I think they have a excellent case. But it may possibly take some time.
What’s occurred so far? Initially, let me back up. When what ever type of “management” there is in show company – either the studios, networks, or in this case agencies – Desires to make a deal then bargains get completed. And they get completed promptly. When they do not want a deal and assume freezing out the writers will force them to cave then there is no deal. Negotiations in that case are a sham. And that is what these negotiations have been so far. Sabre rattling, blaming the other side, stonewalling.
Let’s say this goes to court and it appears like the WGA will win. The agencies will want to get back to the bargaining table and make a deal so quickly your head will spin.
What the WGA is attempting is unprecedented. Make no error, it is a David & Goliath circumstance. The only doable leverage the Guild has is withholding solutions to the agencies. Staffing season and improvement went on this year devoid of the agencies. New bargains that are becoming produced devoid of agencies imply they are not entitled to commissions. That is a good 10% bonus to the writer. And no package bargains to boot.
What occurs when the business discovers it can function devoid of agencies? It may possibly not function as effectively but the gears preserve turning. Playing this out is not necessarily a poor factor.
Personally, I want it could be resolved in a timely manner. I have lots of close friends on each sides. I enjoy my agent and appreciate all that he’s completed for me. But for us to go back to the bargaining table now would be a massive sign of weakness and we may possibly as effectively just run up a white flag.
There is a faction of the WGA that desires to do just that. They naively really feel a deal can be reached by becoming “affordable.” History has taught us otherwise. The way the business has screwed writers for decades has taught us otherwise. And however (one more history lesson) they want to be Neville Chamberlain. He brought “Peace in his time.” Yeah, how did that operate out?
Occasionally you have to sacrifice. I’ve been by way of various lengthy strikes. They are not entertaining and they consume by way of your savings and you have to hold off obtaining that residence. But writers just before me suffered so that I could love residuals, well being care, and a pension. It is my obligation to fight on behalf of future generations of writers.
Anytime there’s a tricky circumstance like this there is generally the faction of writers who want to settle. They do not want to be inconvenienced, they do not want their paycheck to be impacted. The problem at hand may possibly not instantly advantage them personally so screw it. Studios, networks, and now agencies are hoping that contingent gets huge adequate that they’ll force the Guild to settle. Why was there no strike the final time the WGA dealt with studios? Mainly because effectively more than 90% voted to authorize a strike. If 60% had authorized it we would have come away with absolutely nothing possibly immediately after a 4 month operate stoppage.
Solidarity is Required. And granted, it is tough when you have Television writers and function writers and hyphenates. Not all writers are on the identical profession path. We’re not longshoremen. But function writers struck in the early ‘60s for residuals for Television writers. We Require to stick collectively. If not, that is how management breaks unions. And if there was no union defending writers studios would be paying $100 for function scripts (and desperate writers would take it).
Like I mentioned, there is an election going on. For all WGA writers, I urge you to keep the course. Agencies will not go back to the bargaining table for the reason that there’s a new friendlier regime. They’ll go back for the reason that the Guild stands by its existing leaders and they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Was this the suitable course of action? I do not know. This is all uncharted territory. But the only way we’ll know is if we play it out. If you are a WGA member, this is the slate I urge you to vote for:
David A. Goodman for President
Marjorie David for Vice President
Michele Mulroney for Secretary-
For the Board of Directors:
Keep in mind, bargains ONLY get completed when management feels the pinch adequate to want to make a deal. And when that occurs, as if by magic, bargains get completed promptly. No posturing, no bullshit. Let’s not make it a lot easier for them.