- Dec 20, 2002
- Best answers
Source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-me-strike10feb10,1,7005410.storyWriters Guild of America leaders and the major studios reached agreement early this morning on a proposed contract that will be presented to striking writers today in bicoastal membership meetings.
In a statement, guild leaders said the three-year deal made significant strides toward ensuring that writers get a fair cut of new media revenues.
"It is an agreement that protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery," the guild said in an e-mail to it members. "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."
At the Shrine Auditorium near downtown Los Angeles and at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, guild negotiators were scheduled to brief thousands of rank-and-file writers on details of the tentative deal.
Their reaction could be pivotal in determining how soon the strike, now in its fourth month, will end.
On Friday afternoon, guild leaders Patric Verrone, David Young and John Bowman met with 300 strike captains to present the terms of the deal.
When they arrived, the strike captains were given a three-page memo describing the details and were encouraged to make public comments about the tentative contract. In addition to discussing the terms, the guild leaders also explained why they are considering lifting the strike as early as Monday--before a vote to ratify the contract has been taken.
"They want to take the temperature of the membership and feel that if the overall membership feels it's a good deal, they'll call off the strike," strike captain Sivert Glarum, an executive producer of CBS' "Rules of Engagement," said today. "And if not, they won't call off the strike. I think that to be expedient they're trying to get everyone back to work and save the TV season because it might be in the best interest of everyone if we all go back to work before the vote is taken."
Glarum estimated that about 80% of the strike captains who attended feel the contract is fair and understand the need to return to work as soon as possible. But several members expressed that they felt the guild was rushing them into a decision and they did not think they should return to work until the vote has been taken, he added.
"I don't think the guild is trying to ram a deal down anyone's throats," he said. "I think the guild is very interested in hearing all writers' input, and that's why we have these meetings."
Many writers and studio executives have indeed been preparing for Hollywood's return to work on Monday. But that depends on the guild's board formally endorsing the contract at a meeting on Sunday morning.
Although any contract must ultimately be ratified by guild members, the board has the authority to call off the strike at its discretion.
Taking such action, however, is not a given.
Hard-liners within the guild have contended that some aspects fall short. The writers agreement is largely modeled on a recent pact with directors that came under fire from some high-profile WGA members, including board member and writer-director Phil Alden Robinson.
Among other things, Robinson and others have been unhappy with a 17- to 24-day window that would allow studios to stream shows on advertising-supported websites without compensating writers.
But writers did get some sweeteners. Like directors, during the first two years of their contract, writers would receive a fixed residual payment of $1,200 a year for one-hour shows streamed online. In the third year of their contract, however, they would receive something directors do not: residuals equal to 2% of the revenue received by the program's distributor.
Writers were pushing for a variable rather than a fixed residual to assure they would share in any future growth in streaming revenue.
Writers also received something tailored specifically to their craft, so-called "separated-rights" provisions that provides additional pay and credit for Web programs that migrate to television or other formats.
The tentative agreement includes a doubling of the residual rate for movies and TV shows sold online and secures the union's jurisdiction over content created specifically for the Web, above certain budget thresholds. Like directors, writers also would receive a 3.5% increase in minimum pay rates for television and film scripts work.
Guild leaders, however, weren't ready to end the fight just yet.
Writers Guild of America, East, on Friday touted that it would stage its next "big picket" on Wednesday in front of Viacom Inc.'s headquarters in New York.
"The strike is still on," Sherry Goldman, a spokeswoman for the Writers Guild of America, East, said on Friday. "Should the strike eventually be lifted, we will cancel the picket."
Well, it's almost over, thank god.