Editors Note: As talks resume Monday that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. The following is a story by preeminent Hollywood labor reporter David Robb that attempts to answer what has been an elusive question: What, exactly did the writers gain from the last strike? After that, we will run five pointed questions from a panel of established and new writers of TV, features and both. They answer anonymously, sometimes provocatively, about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast changing digital age. Hopefully other writers can weigh in in the comment thread. — MF
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #1
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #2
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #3
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #4
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #5
As negotiators prepare to return to the bargaining table Monday to resume talks for a new WGA contract, many in the industry who saw the crippling writers strike of 2007-08 as an avoidable debacle worry about the prospect of a repeat of that disastrous walkout. Based on the variables, that concern seems misplaced. While many who suffered the last time still remember the pain and wonder if the writers gained much of anything for all that strife, consider this: The gains in new media won by striking writers six years ago is a major reason it’s all but certain that writers won’t be standing under picket signs this spring.
Related: WGA & AMPTP “Very Close” To New Labor Deal
Nearly all the major issues for a new WGA contract already have been worked out in prior rounds of bargaining, leaving only options and exclusivity to be resolved. These are vitally important issues for writers, and in a philosophical sense some compare them to free agency in baseball that came from the players union and its membership fighting in the courts and on the picket line. Unhappy writers aren’t the most predictable bunch, but producers aren’t seeking any takeaways on these issues. Without any onerous rollbacks to crusade against, the chance of a strike over options and exclusivity is widely viewed as negligible. Expect a deal as soon as next week, with modest gains for writers in these areas.
Related: Why Options & Exclusivity Issue Is So Important To WGA
As to the long discussion of whether the writers gained anything else during that strike, I spent years covering showbiz labor unions and have observed you have to look far down the road for the answer. Past writers strikes are like forest fires: They can be very destructive and suffocating, but they’re a necessary mechanism to clear out the old brush — or an antiquated contract that hasn’t kept pace with the rapidly changing way people receive entertainment content. Nearly all past entertainment industry strikes have that one thing in common: They are the result of new technologies and the uncertainty created about the revenue streams they will deliver. Read More »