I love Craig Mazin’s blog, THE ARTFUL WRITER. I don’t know what the proper ‘nettiquite’ is for reposting something like this, but I wanted to have this here so friends, family and those I work with could better… if not best understand what’s at stake in the current labor negotiations and why this well might lead to a strike after Halloween.
I feel the exact same way Craig does… from the deeply held belief in unions to the absurdity we face across the bargaining table from the powers that be. I don’t want this strike to happen and hope the AMPTP will bargain with one eye on reality. This current business terrifies me, honestly… but i do believe we’re marching into it for the right reasons and we’re doing so, together.
Again, apologies to Craig for reposting this. You can read it at his site here.
October 14, 2007
The Bad Guy
I’m a union guy. I was raised in a union household (my parents were public school teachers), I’m currently a dues-paying member of three unions (WGAw, DGA, IATSE), and if I do one more featured voice-over role, I’ll join SAG as well.
I believe in unions.
And I love my unions.
But my first love, my greatest love, will always be the WGAw. I’d like to think that I’ll keep directing films, but they have to be written first. I’ll always write first, and I’ll always be a writer first.
I want to be clear that when I criticize the leadership of my union, it’s because I love my union. I want our union to succeed. And there’s only one thing that makes me angrier than bad union tactics or poor union strategy or union corruption or union stupidity.
And that’s greedy management.
Thus, I thought I’d take a little time today to swivel the barrel of my gun toward the AMPTP. Say what you will about Verrone and David Young (and I do), but the bottom line is that I share their goals.
The AMPTP, however, has been acting atrociously. For those of you who don’t know, the proposal they currently have on the table isn’t just bad.
The first offense is their suggestion that residuals be tied to profit. I’ve already eviscerated that nonsense in another article, so I’ll simply refer you to that. If you want the executive summary, it goes like this: residuals are for the reuse of the fruits of our authorship. They must forever be tied to authorship. They are not a reward for the proper or improper work of the cast, the director, the producer, the editor or the marketing department. Period, the end, strike to the death over this if we must.
The second offense is the notion that residuals could be applied against up front money. In other words, if you’re paid more than scale, the company could attempt to “recoup” residuals out of your fee for writing.
Once again, residuals are not labor fees, they are reuse fees. It doesn’t matter how much you earn. That’s why we all get the same residual rate, regardless of how much we make up front. If the companies are serious about this redefinition, then they will need to stop using the word “residual” and start using the word “bullshit.”
Because that’s what this proposal is. And again…strike to the death.
Third offense–the elimination of separated rights. Our separated rights are already an impoverished version of the rights all American non-work-for-hire authors retain. They were fought for and won in the past, and they are absolutely worth fighting for today. Even if Hollywood weren’t currently attempting to turn every feature film release into a musical (thus triggering separated rights for screenwriters of original works), this would be a non-starter.
If they’re serious about this…then I’m gonna have to go with…
…strike to the death.
Fourth offense–a proposal that would eliminate the requirement to include the writers’ names in advertising, even in situations where the director or producer is included.
But here’s the thing. All of that stuff is prologue to the big one. Internet.
Forget jurisdiction over animation, DVD residuals, creative rights (sadly), and everything else that the WGA wants to argue about. The only one that matters right now is finding good reuse formulae for the internet.
Naturally, the AMPTP proposal for the internet stinks. It’s horrid.
So…strike to the death?
Here’s my basic principle.
I’m a moderate kind of guy. So if I think a proposal is worth the Strike Of Death™, then I’m going to presume that the AMPTP surely isn’t serious about it.
And yeah, I called them Shirley.
I think all of the above is hateful, unnecessary, intentionally provocative crap…except the internet proposal, which I hope is just a crappy starting point toward a good, fair-minded, let’s-end-this-25-year-war deal.
Now, I’ve tried to get my union to concentrate on The One Issue That Binds Us, because I think the other issues are distractions.
So now here’s my special little note to the AMPTP (and Ms. Brogliatti, hey…I hope you still love me, cuz I believe in you too…gotta be some more level heads like ours on each side of that table, right?)
AMPTP…drop your proposals. Get serious. Bargain in good faith. Silence the fringe voices on your side, and maybe you’ll find that the fringe voices on our side start to recede.
If not, you’re going to lose the moderates. There’s a lot of us. We’re active, and we vote. Right now, we’re watching and hoping.
But don’t mistake our even tempers for acceptance or an inclination to appease.
If you’re not serious about your proposals, then please get serious in a useful way.
If you are serious…
…then I’ll see you on the picket line.