Writers Guild of America Votes to Call for Strike, Effective Monday, November 5
LOS ANGELES -- The Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), acting upon the authority granted them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Monday, November 5.
The decision was made following over three months of negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP. To date, the studios have not responded to a single one of the WGA's important proposals, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs, and jurisdiction.
On October 18, WGAW and WGAE members voted by an overwhelming majority of 90.3% to authorize a strike if a fair deal was not reached by the October 31 contract expiration date.
Below is a complete transcript of WGAW President Verrone's and WGAE President Winship's remarks from today's WGA press briefing:
Remarks from WGAW President Patric M. Verrone - 11-2-07
The Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, West and the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East, acting upon the authority granted them by the members, have voted unanimously to call a strike effective 12:01 AM, Monday, November 5.
As many of you know, three weeks ago the Members of the Writers Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if we could not reach a fair and reasonable deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
To avoid this outcome, we have been engaged in negotiations for more than three months to resolve our differences.
Over that time, we dropped nine of our proposals in the interest of reaching a resolution.
However, the studios have not responded to a single one of our important proposals. Every issue that matters to writers, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs, and jurisdiction, has been ignored.
In recent years, these conglomerates have enjoyed tremendous financial success off the backs of literally tens of thousands of people - including members of the creative community. One part of that community is the writers, whose work serves as the blueprint for programs and movies.
And, although the industry's pie is continually growing, our share continues to shrink.
Rather than address our members' primary concern, the studios made it clear that they would rather shut down the town than reach a fair and reasonable deal. This past Wednesday, the AMPTP called a halt to talks by demanding that the Guild accept the extension of the current DVD formula to new media.
This is not an action that anyone takes lightly. But it slowly became apparent that the studios are not prepared to deal fairly with writers and the rest of the talent community.
The companies have refused to agree that writers must receive fair compensation when the writers' work is broadcast on the Internet or downloaded on iPods and cell phones.
The companies are seeking to take advantage of new technology to drastically reduce the residual income that sustains middle class writers and keeps them in the business. Their proposals would destroy the very pool of creative talent that is the basis of their immense revenues and profits.
Twenty years ago, the companies forced writers to accept an unfairly low residual for home videos so that the market could grow. And, even though those markets did grow to become an extremely profitable revenue stream, the residuals never did.
The fact is there was no need for conflict on this issue - the companies are doing very well in the marketplace. As the chairman of one of the Big Six media conglomerates recently stated, the Internet is a source of additional income. Television and film sales to the Internet have not to date cannibalized viewers from broadcast and cable. And the economics of digital distribution are even more favorable than the economics of DVDs. Digital has no hard media costs, no boxes, no marginal extra shipping and handling. The only substantial economic issue for Internet reuse is the residual payment to directors, actors, and writers.
That is why our position is simple and fair: when a writer's work generates revenue for the companies, that writer deserves to be paid.
For the creative community, for the city of Los Angeles, and for all viewers who have come to appreciate our work product, we are sorry that the studios have put us where we are.
We are committed to seeing this through and are willing to engage in any further discussions if the studios so desire.�
Remarks from WGAE President Michael Winship - 11-2-07
"As Patric has said, the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East today joined the Writers Guild West Board and unanimously approved the Negotiating Committee's recommendation to strike.
This is not a decision we take lightly. In fact, we make it with great sadness. There is still time and a deal to be made before this strike begins. We urge the studios and networks to come back and bargain fairly.�
For more information about the Writers Guild of America, West, please visit www.wga.org. For more information about the Writers Guild of America, East, please visit: www.wgaeast.org.
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) represent writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable, and new media industries in both entertainment and news. The unions conduct numerous programs, seminars, and events throughout the world on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers.