Thursday, April 20, 2017

Vote YES for Strike Authorization

I know it sounds strange, but the best way for WGA members to AVOID a strike is to vote YES to authorize it. 

Huh? you may be saying.

Here's why:  Management is just waiting to see how committed the WGA is to strike.   If the Guild sends a resounding message that it is solidly behind our negotiating committee the producers will be way more willing to hammer out a deal and be done with it.   They don't really want a strike either.  They're making $51 billion in profit a year -- why throw a monkey wrench into that? 

If however, the Guild does not give Strike Authorization, or even tepid support, then the producers will let us go on strike, let us suffer, and then give us nothing -- knowing the membership is apt to cave.    The worst of both worlds. 

The only leverage our negotiating committee has is the threat of a strike.  Take that away and we're screwed. 

Young writers might be saying, "But I'm just starting out.  This is a bad time for me to go on strike."  Well, first of all, it's never a good time.  But I feel your pain.  I really do.  I was once in that position myself.   And yes, it requires sacrifice and stalls career momentum.   But think of this:  All of the things that current writers receive -- residuals, decent minimums, credit protection, health & welfare -- those only became reality because writers before you were willing to go out on strike.   We all owe them a great debt.  Believe me, studios would pay $50 an episode if they could get away with it.  $75 for a full screenplay.  So it's time for the current membership to do their part.  

And for you young writers -- who will ultimately get the benefit of a good contract in 2017?   You will. 

Look, I've been through four strikes.  They suck.  They're a hardship on everybody.  But the alternative is losing our health coverage, any previous gains, mega-corporations making billions off of our work and not sharing in any of it, and no protection against bad pay, negligible royalties, and exclusivity clauses that force writers out of work.   You think striking for a month or so is bad?  How about being held to an exclusive contract and not working for a year? 

I've read some comments on industry websites from writers who say if you don't want a strike vote no.   That's idiotic.  Or extremely selfish.  Or cowardice.  Or all three.   

And for you members who say, "Hey, I'm just one vote.  What difference does one vote make?"  I say to you: remember last November? 

Even if you don't really care, even if you passionately don't want a strike, even if you normally don't vote -- this time VOTE.   And vote YES.    We're facing a bully, and how's the only way to deal with one?  By standing up to the son of a bitch.    This is a critical moment in our industry's future.  Do the right thing, the responsible thing, the smart thing:   VOTE YES on Strike Authorization.

WGA members -- here's where you go.  Just click this link.

Thanks and here's to a peaceful and FAIR settlement. 


Roger Owen Green said...

Your buddy Mark Evanier agrees:

Bill Jones said...

Ken--a few questions from an interested/curious observer (who lives on the east coast and has nothing to do with the industry, but is just interested):

1. I've seen you use the "$51 billion in profit" line a few times. Where does that number come from?

2. Who, exactly, are the "producers" that are on the other side? Big studios? Can you give a couple examples, just so those of us on the outside can understand?

3. If there is a WGA strike, are members allowed to write on their own time/own dime? For example, could someone sit at home and continue working on a script? Or is even that prohibited?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Nothing to say but good luck!


Charles H. Bryan said...

I have no idea if you know the answer to this, but who monitors the online votes? The National Labor Relations Board?

We can only hope it's not PriceWaterhouse.

Good luck to all WGA members today.

cjdahl60 said...

Unrelated to your post, but I thought you might be interested in this. A theater group in St. Paul has staged a play in the St. Paul Saint's minor league ballpark. It deals with larger social issues within a baseball context.

The audience is rotated through different parts of the park for different scenes. The actors at each location actually play their scenes six times each night, each time for a different audience group. Needless to say, the timing needs to be perfect.

Here's a link that describes the performance in much more detail:

Brad Apling said...

Are all the worker bees (writers, directors, electricians, lighting, sound, costume, etc.), even SAG, able to publicly show their support for each other when these times arise? Or is it every group for their self?

bruce said...

One of my father's last professional activities (he was actually 88):

"At one studio, 89-year-old comedy writer Sidney Reznick, who has written for Jackie Gleason and Johnny Carson, among others, came out with his walker (and his nurse) and picketed."

Never prouder of him.

Wally said...

Damon Lindelof on writing TV

Stuart Best said...

As a former member of a completely unrelated type of union, I can attest, a 90% vote in favor of strike is most likely to avoid a strike at all. Management settles quickly because they see an extremely strong resolve in the union. A 55% vote in favor of a strike guarantees the strike because it shows the union is vulnerable and can be broken. You go on strike for months and return with a crappy deal and union in-fighting. Anything lower than 50% and you get royally screwed in whatever deal you get. In fact it does lasting damage to the union while management holds all the cards for several years.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

I wish the whole guild, GOOD LUCK!

Barry Traylor said...

I agree with everything you have said. I live in an area that seems to think that unions are evil, but these same people have benefited from the very same unions they vilify.

Johnny Walker said...

@Stuart That's sound advice!

It's hard to believe a WGA member would not vote for strike action, but I suppose they may think it's unnecessary at this point. I don't know. Just trying think of a valid reason.

Hollywood is so cutthroat, imagine what it would be like without unions. Horrible.

What's strange is that you do see shows making jabs at unions and union members. Why is that? Everyone working on it is a member of one that's protecting their interests, so you'd think it would be the last place to see a remark about "lazy" members.

Andrew said...

I'm not a WGA member, but can I vote anyway to run up the count?

PS Oh my God! Eight captchas of street signs!