As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Headed For A Writer's Strike

I like to say that I work in the last big manufacturing industry left in America - entertainment production. That manufacturing may be grinding to a halt soon.

With the clock running out on the contract between Hollywood’s writers and producers Wednesday, negotiators made little progress toward a new deal, and both sides prepared for a strike that could begin as early as Friday.

Representatives of the two unions — the Writers Guild of America East and the Writers Guild of America West — met with bargainers for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Wednesday morning after a federal mediator helped jump-start the stalled talks.

But the two sides broke off talks Wednesday night, allowing the contract to expire at midnight. Writers had presented freshly drawn proposals that left their principal demands intact, according to a guild leader, and producers made no immediate move to accommodate them.

There really has been no progress throughout the talks. Writers want a greater share of DVD residuals (they didn't see that revenue stream coming during the last contract), a deal on new media payments like digital downloads, and an expansion of collective bargaining to cover reality and nonfiction shows.

This could have a ripple effect throughout the industry, with productions shutting down. They've front-loaded a lot of their programming and endeavored to shoot as much as possible in anticipation of the strike. It's pretty clear that's what's going to happen. Next year, the Director's Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild have contracts that end in June, which would really cripple the industry. It appears that the studios would rather placate them and play hardball with the writers, as contract talks with directors are already ongoing.

There is unfortunately no cross-union partnership in Hollywood, in fact there's quite a bit of animosity between some of them. We are probably looking at a protracted walkout, without the other unions coming to their aid. And in a city where one out of every three employees in the industry are out of work on any given day, it's hard to incentivize mass action and non-union solidarity. You can be easily replaced.

Stay tuned...

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