PDA

View Full Version : A note to the Writers' Guild(merged)



General_Grievous
11-06-2007, 11:47 AM
I don't have time to write a whole essay, so I'll be very brief.

Stop complaining. You already get paid too much for writing crap like "Cavemen". Go back to work. There are people with much harder jobs out there that don't get paid half as much as you. I don't feel like waiting another year to see a new episode of "Lost" or "The Office" or even "The Daily Show". So quit your whining and go back to your comfy jobs with your venti lattes so we can enjoy television again.

El Chuxter
11-06-2007, 12:21 PM
I'm a little torn on this (as some of you already may know).

On the one hand, I hate big companies and usually side with unions. I do think the demands of the WGA are more than reasonable, and should be granted. It is, contrary to popular belief, tough work to do what they do, and it's not really tough work to do what the network execs do (sit on their fat arses and make money off the creative talent).

However, I'm not really in favor of this strike for two reasons.

First is the little guy. They don't get paid nearly as much as writers, directors, and actors. A lot of them aren't unionized. They don't have job security if something goes wrong. They also don't get paid if production shuts down. While a guy who makes $10,000 at one time for co-writing an episode of (for instance) Lost can probably survive for a decent period off scripts that are already written (and likely has a spouse who's still working), the 99% of Hollywood employees who work behind the scenes are often struggling to make ends meet. The loss of one or two weeks of work can be disastrous to them.

But the WGA says, "Most production assistants want to be writers. We're doing this for them, so they can get a better deal in the future." What good is an additional four cents per DVD sold or internet download a decade from now going to be if they're getting evicted next week because there's no work? (And how many janitors do you think are going to be writers two years from now? I'm guessing zero.)

Even beyond the actual studio employees, there are so many others who depend on the Hollywood machine for their livelihood: caterers, local restaurants, rental facilities, etc. This could easily, if it continues for more than a week or so, devastate the LA (and possibly New York) economy. I heard one estimate that it could cost the overall LA economy in excess of one billion dollars if the strike continues as long as the last one (22 weeks, I believe). Think about that. One billion dollars.

The other reason is a bit more complex. Yeah, right now "new media" is a total unknown, which is the studios' main argument. However, for the first time in recorded history, there is mass communication that is not monopolized by a few conglomerates. People actually have options. And, already, huge numbers of people have stopped watching TV altogether, or cut back significantly. Movie attendance is down, and, last I read, DVD rentals and purchases were, too.

Imagine if that shuts down for a month or two, or more. Isn't there a very real chance that people could become even more disgruntled with the studios? Isn't there even a slim chance this could totally destroy the entire Hollywood system if it continues long enough? Sure, it's not a big likelihood, but it's something both sides should be cognizant of.

This isn't a profession like teaching or food service, where it's an absolute necessity. Nor is it a field where the workers would be abused without representation, like coal miners or migrant farm workers. It's a luxury field, and they make rather good money to start with.

And don't forget that the Directors' Guild and Screen Actors' Guild will be doing the same thing next summer. They'll expect what the writers get, and more. (In other words, they'll probably strike, too, and the little guy is going to be screwed over twice more.)

Again, yes, they deserve what they're asking for. It's only fair, and the corporations (I don't think it would be too much to call them "evil" or "greedy") should grant their demands. I just think that, given the circumstances, it's a bit selfish of them to shut everything down, given the people they're hurting who make a fraction of what they do.

I mean, they're writers, for God's sake! They knew this was coming. Why didn't they, oh, I don't know, write about it for months and try to sway public opinion? Wouldn't that be more effective? (Wait, these are the guys writing the TV shows that are on now. They don't have any good ideas.)

CaptainSolo1138
11-06-2007, 12:35 PM
The writers believe they should be paid extra because their material ends up on other media besides TV. OK, fine. But then every steel worker should go on strike until they're compensated for every product their steel is used in.

JON9000
11-06-2007, 02:50 PM
If production is dependent on the ingenuity of the few, particularly when the "few" are actually workers rather than capitalists, the few should get a lot of the cash. GO UNION!

Oh, and I love how this completely turns the plot of "Atlas Shrugged" inside out. Eat that, Randian pigs!

And for those who want to watch shows; read a book, go outdoors, learn a new skill. I'll miss it, but I will live.

The strike could be the greatest thing to happen! (Or we could get more reality programming- yikes!)

Exhaust Port
11-06-2007, 05:07 PM
You seem to contradict yourself.


You already get paid too much for writing crap like "Cavemen".

..but...


I don't feel like waiting another year to see a new episode of "Lost" or "The Office" or even "The Daily Show".

You complain about crap that makes the airwaves yet you are annoyed that they are keeping you from watching stuff you love? Well what is it? Do you, or don't you want them to work?

Obviously they provide a service that you and millions of other people have a lot of interest in. 8.3 MILLION people watched the last episode of "The Office". 8.3 MILLION! They only list 4 writers for their show (perhaps their are more uncredited) who are able to keep 8 Million folks tuning in each week. Starting salary for a full-time TV show writer is $70,000 but it would be safe to guess the writers on "The Office" are making at least twice that. Even that would be a pretty good deal given how much $$ their writing makes the studio. High viewership = High commercial time revenue.

But even on the flipside writers for bad shows still deserve to be compensated at the going rate for a TV show writer. Writers aren't directly responsible for crap TV either. That burden is also carried by the directors, producers, studios and more importantly (IMHO) the actors.


Go back to work. There are people with much harder jobs out there that don't get paid half as much as you.

What's a harder job? Longer hours? More of a commute? Outside in the weather? Stuck behind some desk? Travel required? Having to work late? Working Holiday and Weekends? Deadlines? Flipping burgers? Require 4 years of college? Require a Masters degree? Require a PhD.?

The point is the argument of "harder jobs" is all relative and based on your own biases. Maybe you only see that these folks type words into a computer all day and try to make people laugh. I'm sure there is a lot more to it than that.

Maybe digging a ditch is more difficult physically than a writer but ditch diggers aren't under the same scrutiny or time constraints. Plus, anyone can be a ditch digger. I could do their job after a few minutes of instruction. I can't do that for a TV show writer position.

I'll go out on a limb GG and say you've never been apart of a unionized job. Unions are there to insure a relatively uniform quality of life (income for one example) for it's members in a particular field. Imagine if teachers were only paid by how "difficult" the average Joe thought their job was or how well 1 particular student did on his tests? Teachers at a small school should be paid relatively equal to someone in a big school since their job is the same. (disclaimer: that's a simplistic view of the goal since it doesn't take into account cost of living in different areas, etc.).

El Chuxter
11-06-2007, 05:20 PM
Imagine if teachers were only paid by how "difficult" the average Joe thought their job was or how well 1 particular student did on his tests?

This is much easier to imagine if you live in Texas.

Jedi_Master_Guyute
11-06-2007, 05:52 PM
Seems pretty simple: networks get $$ if a consumer buys their DVD's and/or legally downloads their material. The writers, SHOULD be getting some piece of that as, well, you know, the shows wouldn't exist without writers. Seems pretty straight forward.

I'm sure if you did work and didn't get paid for it, you'd be pretty upset too, eh? :thumbsup:

El Chuxter
11-06-2007, 05:57 PM
They do get paid for it. Pretty well, in most cases.

Again, I agree with their demands, but the strike is going to hurt a lot of people who aren't writers, or in many cases even directly involved with Hollywood (the faceless, heartless entity that makes movies and shows, not the city). I'm not familiar with the inner workings of the WGA, but most unions have a fund (or at least low-interest loans) for members if a strike causes a hardship on them. Trouble is, most unions striking aren't going to hurt a lot of non-union people. This could cripple the economy of Southern California.

Exhaust Port
11-06-2007, 06:08 PM
Trouble is, most unions striking aren't going to hurt a lot of non-union people. This could cripple the economy of Southern California.

This is mentioned a lot by companies when one of their employee groups threatens a strike. The company turns to the other employees and say "look how these greedy co-workers want to take away your income just so they can get a bigger piece of the pie." Management knows there is no greater influence than peer pressure from your fellow workers.

The same could be said on the other side of the picket line too. If management would only have given us __________ we would have needed to do this.

Unfortunately what other options does an employee group have? Management holds all the cards except one and that is actual work produced by their employees.

stillakid
11-06-2007, 06:18 PM
A lot of what I'm reading here seems to be coming from the notion that ALL Writers are being paid exorbitant amounts of money. That same attitude seems to exist regarding most other careers within the movie industry too.

While it may seem that way to the general public, the truth is that the vast majority of those within the industry categorically do NOT make that kind of money. Most are firmly within the middle class tax bracket and many make much less, particularly as they make the effort to become established within the industry at some level.

Unlike most other professional career jobs, you don't go into an office, fill out an application and/or drop off your resume and wait for a call. The movie industry at nearly every level is more like a traveling circus, where aspiring performers (aka, Writers, Directors, Actors, Cameramen, Production Designers, Producers, etc.) don't start out at the top, but put in many many years making very little money working very long hours at the bottom. And the truth is that a very small percentage of people in the industry are earning those millions of dollars that seem so outrageous.

Part of the reason for any contract negotiation is to improve working conditions and to ensure fair compensation for work completed. Another reason for contract negotiations is to establish precedents for future generations of workers. Those few Writers who are making millions a year don't really need an additional .04 cents per DVD or necessarily worry about a new-media deal. But there are plenty more of struggling Writers now and in the future to whom it will be important.

The issues in any contract negotiations are complex and thought it may seem to be a very simple situation here (rich guys want more money), it isn't the case at all. It is certainly an understandable viewpoint coming from a general public who has no realistic possibility of making "millions of dollars a year," but the issues have less to do with the specific amount of money and more to do with fair working conditions and compensation for everyone.

BountyHunterScum
11-06-2007, 07:17 PM
I don't have time to write a whole essay, so I'll be very brief.

Stop complaining. You already get paid too much for writing crap like "Cavemen". Go back to work. There are people with much harder jobs out there that don't get paid half as much as you. I don't feel like waiting another year to see a new episode of "Lost" or "The Office" or even "The Daily Show". So quit your whining and go back to your comfy jobs with your venti lattes so we can enjoy television again.

Exactly right! Be grateful and shut the f-ck up already.

El Chuxter
11-06-2007, 07:34 PM
A lot of what I'm reading here seems to be coming from the notion that ALL Writers are being paid exorbitant amounts of money. That same attitude seems to exist regarding most other careers within the movie industry too.

While it may seem that way to the general public, the truth is that the vast majority of those within the industry categorically do NOT make that kind of money. Most are firmly within the middle class tax bracket and many make much less, particularly as they make the effort to become established within the industry at some level.

I'm not sure if you're counting my comments among "a lot" or not. I'd consider any wage that puts someone in the middle class tax bracket to be "paid pretty well." It's not great money, but it is a living wage, which is more than can be said about, say, that lady at Wal-Mart who doesn't want you to open cases of figures, the one who not only has to work off the clock, but makes less than a man in the same position, doesn't get any health insurance, and works for an employer who will flat-out lie about those facts whenever confronted, an employer who has (a few times) gone so far as to shut down entire stores or departments and canned everyone when the employees even mentioned unionizing.

You probably know more about this than I do, but I'm assuming that the bottom echelon of writers (in terms of pay, not skill) probably don't work forty-hour weeks, and could conceivably have a second job if they needed to. I'm not saying anyone should have to hold down two jobs, but even these guys who's writing salary looks paltry most likely (if my guess is correct) aren't exactly living in homeless shelters.

Regarding the greater economy of the area, I know it's a common scare tactic of management. However, think about most businesses whose employees can (or do) strike. Grocery stores hire scabs, and if you're not happy with that, go to the Trader Joe's down the street that treats its employees more fairly. Steel plants hire scabs, often from other cities. So do manufacturers. Schools don't typically hire scabs, per se, but they bring in a lot of subs, and often will extend the school year.

However, there are so many intertwined unions in Hollywood that any production that employs union writers will have every other position that can be filled by union workers, filled by union workers. So it's highly unlikely that scabs will figure into the equation.

So the lower paid writers (the majority) will probably be hurting from losing their wages, but probably not to the point of starvation. Big guys will just have to cut down on the amount of imported champagne they bathe with.

But what about the background crew? Sure, most production assistants probably want to be something more, so this could be seen as in their favor in the long run. But what about the secretary? The janitor? The guy in archives? They're likely to be laid off or put on a long unpaid leave if things shut down long enough.

What about the guy who owns the hot dog stand next door? Do you think it's the rich people going to eat hot dogs? No, it's the hourly guys, the ones who are going to be pinching pennies because they know there's a likelihood they won't be paid in the near future. No hot dogs sold, no rent money. The guy loses his business. No business, no income, so no mortgage payment. I guess he's screwed.

The entertainment industry is the third largest employer in Southern California. When the third largest employer of any area completely shuts down (as opposed to bringing in scabs), it's going to hurt a lot of people. Really, really badly in some cases.

Again, I usually side with unions, and I'd be the last person to say these guys are being treated fairly. But they do have it, for the most part, better than a lot of seemingly unrelated people who are going to be royally screwed.

2-1B
11-06-2007, 07:38 PM
I'm kidding about the stillakid part, I know he doesn't get paid for his time here nor does Steven give him a cut of the take :D but seriously, I hope this strike is taken care of soon and preferably in their favor.

My most selfish reason is that I can't stomach the thought of The Office getting cut off from us since that's my favorite show. :(

stillakid
11-06-2007, 08:20 PM
I'm not sure if you're counting my comments among "a lot" or not. I'd consider any wage that puts someone in the middle class tax bracket to be "paid pretty well." It's not great money, but it is a living wage, which is more than can be said about, say, that lady at Wal-Mart who doesn't want you to open cases of figures, the one who not only has to work off the clock, but makes less than a man in the same position, doesn't get any health insurance, and works for an employer who will flat-out lie about those facts whenever confronted, an employer who has (a few times) gone so far as to shut down entire stores or departments and canned everyone when the employees even mentioned unionizing.

You probably know more about this than I do, but I'm assuming that the bottom echelon of writers (in terms of pay, not skill) probably don't work forty-hour weeks, and could conceivably have a second job if they needed to. I'm not saying anyone should have to hold down two jobs, but even these guys who's writing salary looks paltry most likely (if my guess is correct) aren't exactly living in homeless shelters.

Regarding the greater economy of the area, I know it's a common scare tactic of management. However, think about most businesses whose employees can (or do) strike. Grocery stores hire scabs, and if you're not happy with that, go to the Trader Joe's down the street that treats its employees more fairly. Steel plants hire scabs, often from other cities. So do manufacturers. Schools don't typically hire scabs, per se, but they bring in a lot of subs, and often will extend the school year.

However, there are so many intertwined unions in Hollywood that any production that employs union writers will have every other position that can be filled by union workers, filled by union workers. So it's highly unlikely that scabs will figure into the equation.

So the lower paid writers (the majority) will probably be hurting from losing their wages, but probably not to the point of starvation. Big guys will just have to cut down on the amount of imported champagne they bathe with.

But what about the background crew? Sure, most production assistants probably want to be something more, so this could be seen as in their favor in the long run. But what about the secretary? The janitor? The guy in archives? They're likely to be laid off or put on a long unpaid leave if things shut down long enough.

What about the guy who owns the hot dog stand next door? Do you think it's the rich people going to eat hot dogs? No, it's the hourly guys, the ones who are going to be pinching pennies because they know there's a likelihood they won't be paid in the near future. No hot dogs sold, no rent money. The guy loses his business. No business, no income, so no mortgage payment. I guess he's screwed.

The entertainment industry is the third largest employer in Southern California. When the third largest employer of any area completely shuts down (as opposed to bringing in scabs), it's going to hurt a lot of people. Really, really badly in some cases.

Again, I usually side with unions, and I'd be the last person to say these guys are being treated fairly. But they do have it, for the most part, better than a lot of seemingly unrelated people who are going to be royally screwed.

If I'm reading the undertones of your message correctly, you seem to be suggesting that there is some kind of income level wherein after one reaches it, he should just sit back and be grateful for it and never "complain."

Look, it isn't anyone else's fault that people settle for careers/jobs that have relatively low or just adequate income ceilings. Many people are very happy with that kind of lifestyle, comfortable in the suburbs of Buffalo where 3000 square foot houses cost $200,000 and they go on their annual vacation to Vegas. It's a safe and perfectly acceptable life.

But other people aren't interested in settling for what they see as that kind of "boring" life and for their own reasons, take another path through life into career choices that just so happen to be more profitable than your average run of the mill job. I'll never begrudge anyone for wanting to make more money if that's what they want to do and if the job they do has that potential. The higher levels of the entertainment industry can be very profitable relative to the "standard" way of life around the world. Is it fair? Depends on who you ask, I suppose, but no, we're not saving lives here.

But the fact remains that because of people like you and me who buy movie tickets (lots of them), watch TV, listen to music, read fan magazines, etc, there is A LOT of revenue being generated because of entertainment products. SOMEBODY is going to collect and if isn't the workers who create it, it'll be the non-creative studio executives who already make a lot, in many cases, more than these "whiners" that you are talking about.

If you really wanted a socialistic system, perhaps "extra" entertainment revenue could be diverted to "important" societal needs like education or roads. But the last time I checked, this was a free-market capitalist society where, like it or not, you take home as much as you can and spend it any way you wish.

As far as "rich whiners" hurting the rank and file middle class who populate most of the industry, while the immediate financial pain could be damaging, anyone who understands the point of a union supports any effort that creates a more equitable playing field for everyone. Since the Reagan era anyway, the concept of union busting has run strong particularly with the Republican corporatists who, essentially, are just greedy old white men who don't want to share profits earned from the work of the creative and technically skilled. Trust me, it isn't individual executives who are taking personal financial risk to fund hundred million dollar feature films, but they are paid like they are. Why the creative element who actually do the work shouldn't equitably share in that profit is a non-argument.

Bottom line is that the revenue sent to the studio coffers by consumers like you and me goes somewhere. Should it go to the non-creative "suits" or be shared with the people who actually do the work? That's the foundation of the issue and how one chooses to answer it will determine which side he stands with.

Blue2th
11-06-2007, 08:32 PM
It takes alot more money than usual to live in California.

I wish the writers well, they just want a piece of pie that's getting bigger, so they should have a bigger piece...of pie that is. (don't think I make a good writer)

I'm just glad that alot of anticipated projects got written way in advance, like Lost, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Indiana Jones, possibly I hope so Star Trek.

Jedi_Master_Guyute
11-06-2007, 09:02 PM
It takes alot more money than usual to live in California.

I wish the writers well, they just want a piece of pie that's getting bigger, so they should have a bigger piece...of pie that is. (don't think I make a good writer)

I'm just glad that alot of anticipated projects got written way in advance, like Lost, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Indiana Jones, possibly I hope so Star Trek.

Yeah, LOST and HEROES are STILL going to be affected. HEROES had to reshoot an alternate ending for their last december episode to serve for a season finale, just in case.

and LOST only has 8-9 episodes ready to air, which still leaves the remaining handful. So, the networks/men in charge better get off their asses and fix this situation cos i'll gladly block out every last reality TV schlock we get.

Blue2th
11-06-2007, 10:57 PM
Yeah, LOST and HEROES are STILL going to be affected. HEROES had to reshoot an alternate ending for their last december episode to serve for a season finale, just in case.

and LOST only has 8-9 episodes ready to air, which still leaves the remaining handful. So, the networks/men in charge better get off their asses and fix this situation cos i'll gladly block out every last reality TV schlock we get.

So with the Director mentioning that the strike luckily was not going to effect them too bad in his interview on G4, he never mentioned that. hmm.

OMG I absolutely loath reality tv. I can't think of one program I remotely like.

If it gets bad I will get the Comcast tv turned off and save some money. Yup, that's a ripple effect.

El Chuxter
11-07-2007, 12:47 AM
I was afraid my comments would be interpreted incorrectly. (Which is why I've made a point to spell them out in almost every post I've made so far in this thread.)

I am pro-union.

I am generally anti-corporation.

I believe the writers (and other creative talents) deserve what they are asking for.

I'm just worried about the guy who just came over from Mexico and was lucky enough to get a job flipping burgers in LA to support his wife and four kids. Or the kid who sold everything he had to come to Hollywood and has so far only been able to get a job as a sales clerk in a local store.

Everyone in Hollywood or LA isn't trying to make it big. Some people just live there. Some of them can't afford to go where it costs less to live, as paradoxical as that may seem on the surface.

I can't help but think that these guys on strike are writers. Writers try to convince people of things for a living. And unions typically have rather deep pockets. Why have I only heard rumblings for a few months? Why did most people not know about this for a few weeks?

Why didn't they wage a PR war for the past six months or so?

I'm absolutely serious. The networks are not going to give in to their employees. Period. They will only give in to public opinion, because they think that will hurt their bottom line. When this ends, likely in favor of the writers, it will be because the networks think the American consumer is finally getting p***ed enough that they have to capitulate. It won't be because their hearts grew. (They don't have hearts, just pumps that circulate this black goo through their veins.)

And, yet, whenever there's a labor dispute in a school district, it's impossible for local people to miss out on what's going on unless their heads are literally stuck in the sand. Flyers, mailers, letters to the editor, advertisements, marches, you name it. I've seen it all. Inform the public that there's a dispute early on, and many will make a point to contact the school district (or steel plant, or studios, or whatever). And, like I said, the studios' perception of public opinion will ultimately decide this.

Forgive the comparison, but I can't help but think this is like the Bush administration not trying diplomacy and jumping immediately to war in Iraq. Rather than do the actual hard work, it seems like the easy way, and--unfortunately--the way that will lead to the most destruction in the long run.

plasticfetish
11-07-2007, 03:32 AM
I don't live in LA anymore and I haven't worked in film or TV for nearly seven years now. I'll always remember what my first boss, the production coordinator on a show that I was starting out on as a "PA" (production assistant), told me when it came to asking for money. She told me that, "There's a lot of money in this industry, and you shouldn't feel bad at all about asking for your share."

I hammered away for about five years, working 70+ hour a week jobs, with no benefits, and always the promise that eventually I could join a union... and that union would stand up for me.

When I finally got my shot at joining local 44 (set dressers, props people, greens keepers, etc.) -- I passed it up. Why? Was it because I didn't believe in the idea of unions? No... it was because of the strike threats (a writers strike) at the time, and because 44 was a weak local that was prone to negotiating rate reductions with studios and production companies.

I passed. I passed on paying them the $2700 join fee, and I continued hammering away at finding work (nonunion, crap pay, longer hours) for the next 3 or so years... until I was finally completely burnt-out from working in the industry.

I'm not antiunion, but I've got a few reservations about how they're run, and would love it if they all worked together a bit more to ensure that each part of the entertainment industry is treated fairly. The writers are entitled to their share of the wealth, and make no mistake in understanding... there is an unbelievable amount of money being made from what they (and a lot of other people) do. If a successful writers strike leads to stronger unions all around, and not just in the entertainment industry, then thatís a good thing.

When one union succeeds, they all succeed. When one union fails, theyíre all just that much weaker.

Also, and for the record, today I regret not joining the union. Not just because it would have given me a shot at working the union jobs I couldnít otherwise do, but because Iíve come to realize that rather than avoid a weak union, I could have joined... and worked to make it stronger.

JON9000
11-07-2007, 11:33 AM
Here is a reality: the more unique your talent, and the more money that talent generates, the stronger your bargaining position. When a group goes on strike and others are hurt, it amazes me that other workers side with management instead of the workers. It all comes down to wishing you were in the group of workers that had the leverage. You can see this anytime a players' union goes on strike. I work for peanuts, so you should learn your place and do so, too!

I hate to sound cruel, but that's life folks. Creative talent is what makes the world go 'round. If you could be replaced in your job by another automaton tomorrow, you are screwed. It sucks. Go write a book like Stilla or Tycho. Successful or not, at least you gave it a shot!


Should it go to the non-creative "suits" or be shared with the people who actually do the work? That's the foundation of the issue and how one chooses to answer it will determine which side he stands with.

well put.

2-1B
11-08-2007, 12:21 AM
I didn't realize we had this serious thread going on, so when I made that prior post I was saying it as a goof...but it got merged here and now looks out of place.