Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Strike Day 81 (6 A.D.)

Strike goes on.

I was lucky today -- I finished up my shift on the picket line just as it was starting to rain.

The turn-out wasn't bad but it wasn't great either.

I showed up a little bit early and no one was at my usual gate. It was like a ghost-town. Nothing but the water-cooler and some stacked up picket signs. Then my "Strike Buddy" arrived and at least there were two of us. We started picketing. After about 15 minutes a bunch of regular faces marched over -- turned out they had joined all the other picketers at Warner Bros. to listen to and ask questions of a member of the Negotiating Committee who had stopped by for that purpose.

So it turned out things weren't as bad as I imagined when I first showed up.

Later in the shift I talked with a studio executive on his way back from lunch who's a pretty good friend of mine and a very decent guy. Mostly we discussed the primaries. When the discussion turned to the future timeline of the strike neither of us was optimistic or pessimistic -- we simply agreed there was no way to know but that we hoped it would end as soon as possible. For me that means as soon as we can get a fair deal on internet profit participation -- and guess what? For him it means the exact same thing.

Like virtually every executive I know -- including the ones who work in business affairs as well as on the "creative" side -- he believes the WGA is on the right side of this dispute.

I'm pretty exhausted but there's one other thing I feel I need to write about...

Divisiveness is our greatest enemy.

The AMPTP is our opponent in this dispute but the greatest threat to us succeeding in gaining what we need for our next contract is divisiveness within the Guild itself.

If we keep sticking together, sooner or later, either in order to save the last vestiges of pilot season or in order to save the Academy Awards or in order to prevent a shutdown of all remaining feature film production or in order to end the complete and utter shutdown of the scripted entertainment industry (if the strike drags on all the way to July 1st) -- sooner or later, the AMPTP will have to give us a fair deal on internet profit participation.

I really believe only one thing can prevent that from happening:

Tearing ourselves apart.

Eating ourselves alive the way the WGA -- to greater or lesser degrees depending on whose history you read -- ate itself alive back in 1981, 1985 and 1988.

If you have an opinion on the DGA deal and whether accepting it as is or taking any other course of action would be a good thing or a bad thing, I encourage you to MAKE YOUR INDIVIDUAL OPINION KNOWN TO THE LEADERSHIP AND THE NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE OF OUR GUILD.

Tell Patric Verrone and John Bowman and David Young and all the rest of them what you think and what you want and what you can live with in a contract and what you can't live with. By now you should have all of their e-mail addresses. If I wasn't as exhausted as I am I'd go get them and post them all right here.

I returned to this post Thursday, January 24, in order to add:

Patric Verrone: pverrone[AT]
John Bowman: johnfbowman[AT]
David Young: dyoung[AT]
Robert King: rking36[AT]

NOTE: I used a common method to camouflage the addresses so these guys don't each get a dozen junk e-mails selling Viagra courtesy of my blog page being scanned by spammers.

But please, please, please -- do not begin to mount organized group lobbying efforts and/or petition campaigns.

Whether I agree with your opinion on the matter at hand or disagree is not the issue. The issue is that only one thing will unequivocally come from such efforts and/or campaigns: they will divide us.

There's nothing wrong with debate and discussion and there is nothing wrong with making your voice heard, especially when your opinion runs against the grain.

But I think there is something wrong with launching organized efforts at influencing the decision-makers in our Guild unless you make those efforts transparent -- unless you make them known to the entire membership of our Guild.

If you feel uncomfortable having your name associated with a particular position at this time, then chances are you probably shouldn't take it.

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