Saturday, May 25, 2024
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HomeBlog the LinePlay Ball! (?) Is this thing really over...?

Play Ball! (?) Is this thing really over…?


Everyone everywhere is announcing a “tentaive deal,” this time with the blessings of Messrs. Verrone & Winship , inasmuch as they used that phrase in a letter to WGA members.

It would seem the only remaining question would be whether there’s a sizeable chunk of membership left who might feel that tentative deal isn’t wortwhile — given the cost already — and may want more.

Or not.

Then again, practicalities will eventually begin to assert themselves, even in Hollywood.

After all, there are also several indications that another depression may be headed our way (the old-fashioned word for what is now called “severe and prolonged recession.“) In which case, people will want to be entertained even more relentlessly than they currently are.

Meanwhile, here are some excerpts from the Verrone/Winship letter, one whose tone is in marked contrast to last weekend’s letter responding to the flurry of “strike is settled” reporting that was going on:

To Our Fellow Members,

We have a tentative deal.

It is an agreement that protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery. It creates formulas for revenue-based residuals in new media, provides access to deals and financial data to help us evaluate and enforce those formulas, and establishes the
principle that, “When they get paid, we get paid.”

(The letter then refers readers to the WGA website for details of the agreement — then continues):

Less than six months ago, the AMPTP wanted to enact profit-based residuals, defer all Internet compensation in favor of a study, forever eliminate “distributor’s gross” valuations, and enforce 39 pages of rollbacks to compensation, pension and health benefits, reacquisition, and separate rights. Today, thanks to three months of physical resolve, determination, and perseverance, we have a contract that includes WGA jurisdiction and separated rights in new media, residuals for Internet reuse, enforcement and auditing tools, expansion of fair market value and distributor’s gross language, improvements to other traditional elements of the MBA, and no rollbacks.

Over these three difficult months, we shut down production of nearly all scripted content in TV and film and had a serious impact on the business of our employers in ways they did not expect and were hard pressed to deflect. Nevertheless, an ongoing struggle against seven, multinational media conglomerates, no matter how successful, is exhausting, taking an enormous personal toll on our members and countless others. As such, 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. We activated, engaged, and involved the membership of our Guilds with a solidarity that has never before occurred. We developed a captains system and a communications structure that used the Internet to build bonds within our membership and beyond. We earned the backing of other unions and their members worldwide, the respect of elected leaders and politicians throughout the nation, and the overwhelming support of fans and the general public. Our thanks to all of them, and to the staffs at both Guilds who have worked so long and patiently to help us all.

There is much yet to be done and we intend to use all the techniques and relationships we’ve developed in this strike to make it happen. We must support our brothers and sisters in SAG who, as their contract expires in less than five months, will be facing many of the same challenges we have just endured. We must further pursue new relationships we have established
in Washington and in state and local governments so that we can maintain leverage against the consolidated multinational conglomerates with whom we bargain. We must be vigilant in monitoring the deals that are made in new media so that in the years ahead we can enforce and expand our contract. We
must fight to get decent working conditions and benefits for writers of reality TV, animation, and any other genre in which writers do not have a WGA contract….

So. No guarantees about SAG’s situation, but it’s hard to imagine — with two big, fresh settlements to work with — that the actors would seriously consider walking out at this point…

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