Writers Guild Plot Line: A Very Long Strike?

Writers Guild of America
Writers Guild of America

I'm in front of the Writers Guild headquarters in Los Angeles and right now the leadership of the guild is meeting to ratify to decision to strike and to plan the details of exactly when writers should walk of the job. At the Writers Guild meeting at the LA Convention Center last night, 3,000 writers rallied to push a strike forward and it became clear that this WGA leadership means business.

I'm hearing that the leadership is determined to strike, no matter how long it takes for them to get higher DVD payments and a digital distribution payment contract.

But does the guild membership want to be out of work for months? Especially when the TV industry is particularly challenged by all sorts of new media? I'm guessing not. I'm guessing everyone would rather settle than have this drag out when people have private school tuition to pay (this is Los Angeles).

So why are we looking at a strike? Well for one thing, digital revenues are so amorphous, so undefined, and that makes them harder to negotiate over. But the media companies say they don't yet know what digital revenues will look like or how big they'll be, so they're reluctant to give up anything so far in the future, but so potentially crucial. Also, writers want to make sure they don't get screwed, as many say they did in past contracts, over DVD payments.

And there's another factor: many people are saying that the guild leadership is much more militant than the guild membership. The WGA negotiator has a background in blue collar guild negotiations and previously worked for the garment workers I believe. Quite a different demographic, with a different approach and needs than the not-so-blue collar writers.

I'm waiting for details on the planned strike, and will be reporting throughout the day.

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