What a major embarrassment for Variety! This afternoon, I was leaked this memo sent by the Writers Guild West president Patric Verrone to his WGAW Contract Captains vehemently denying the trade paper’s supposed big strike “scoop” today:
There is an article in today’s Variety written by Dave McNary titled, “Reality in Check: WGA Gives Up on Nonscripted Effort.” The article makes a number of baseless assertions, including that our reality organizing campaign has ended and that WGA negotiators in our current MBA bargaining have decided to drop our reality proposal. We are writing to assure you that these assertions are patently false.
According to the reporter, much of this article was based on his own analysis and speculation rather than objective fact. We intend to make clear to Variety’s editors that opinions should be labeled as such, and not printed on the front page under a banner headline.
The WGAW continues to be committed to organizing reality. In the past weeks we have had several actions, including rallies and pickets at FremantleMedia’s production Temptation protesting its failure to recognize the WGA as the collective bargaining representative for writers. We have also begun a long-term struggle with that company.s other productions aimed at eliminating sub-standard working conditions.
The WGAW continues to pursue a wage and hour campaign that includes multiple lawsuits against production companies and networks, and wage and hour claims with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. The wage claims have been overwhelmingly successful, with a number of claimants receiving back overtime at a number of companies. These settlements have included confidentiality agreements, and as a result have not been widely publicized. Our position that a majority of people in reality television are systematically denied overtime was boosted earlier this fall when E! agreed to pay three years of back overtime to over 100 producers.
We cannot guarantee you that we will achieve all of our goals at the bargaining table, or that our reality television organizing campaign will meet with rapid success; but we can give you our word that this Variety article does not represent the position of the WGA or our Negotiating Committee. It is our hope that this article, and others like it that may appear, will only serve to unite writers against employers who want to deny them the ability to share in this growing global business. We are all in this together.
Patric M. Verrone,
Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.