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October 26 2007

David Fury on a possible WGA strike. The Watcher talks to various writers about the negotiations and chances for a strike come midnight on Halloween. Things are looking pretty gloomy out there for our mid season series like 24 (Fury's current series) and Lost.

David says: I’d like to believe that it can be resolved, but with the changing marketplace, a strike may be the only way to get studios to budge. He also notes later that if the parties aren't too far apart the writers may work through the negotiations, but it sounds to me like 'really far apart' is the true description.

You know what I think will be interesting, to see if TV Shows on DVD sales increase if the writers go on strike. Due to people wanting to see something new or catch up on something old. If sales increase if the writers are on strike, it may give the studios and producers more leverage to hold out for longer. Hmm, someone should ask Zoic studio guys this weekend if and how the strike may impact them, it would be interesting to hear it from another perspective.
Wow, this is pretty crazy. I am not liking the prospect of shows with actual substance (aka real writers) not airing. Haven't we suffered enough?
I think writers suffer a lot too, MySerenity. For example, reality shows have writers (...yeah...), and they get shit for money because they don't come under the right fold at the moment. DVD residuals are shite, and let's not even mention the new media (online) situation.
I thought this argument was not to be bought into this room.
Wow, I didn't realize Fury was executive producing 24. Good for him!

(Yeah, I'm way out of date on some of my news, I know.)
I'm kind of 1/16th hoping there is a strike just so I can get caught up on my DVDs and reading. Oh, and that mysterious thing they call 'a social life'. ;-D
*sigh*

Just bag 'em all. Who needs writers?

But seriously, all I can imagine hearing right now is the agonized click-click-clatter of keyboards as thousands of writers all around me struggle to finish & deliver...

*sigh*

Sometimes a strike is the only way...

"I was thinking what an interesting concept it is... to eliminate the writer from the artistic process. If we can get rid of the actors and directors, maybe we've got something." - "Griffin Mill", The Player, Michael Tolkin

(Maddy, I truly think that "rule" was just in your head...)
Oh I definitely feel pain for the writers, Gossi. As an inspiring tv writer myself, I look up to people like Fury and Lindelof and am heart-broken at the idea of them being out of work.
Very possible, QuoterGal. Think I'll call it a night and get some sleep. Looking forward to chatting with you again tomorrow. Bye now!
So if the writers go on strike, can the networks bring in "scabs" (for want of a better word) to replace them?
I can't imagine a union without scabs but I don't know how that would work with the WGA. Still, I can't imagine any writer doing it. Where would they work afterwards? None of the WGA writers who are also showrunners would hire them.
I dunno maybe retired screenwriters, writers from outside the United States, those desperate for a quick buck and don't care about the consequences. Heck you could even get fans writing for the show (which would just be odd to say the least).
JMS has written quite a bit about the upcoming strike. I can't say it it'll happen on the stroke of midnight or not but it seems inevitable.
Apparently 90.3% of the writers who belong to the union wga(writers guild of America) voted to strike. I will not do the WGA's side justice but one of their main points is to receive $0.08 cents on each DVD sale. This would be an increase from 0.04 cents. FYI, JMS has never received *anything* for a DVD sale, itunes, aol, bitrottent etc. for B5.
I wonder if 24 will be affected a tall by this strike. If they've done all 24 scripts by now, they'll be safe. The other downside is that they may have to make longer "worst singers" shows for "American Idol".
I just hope the strike doesn't get Pushing Daisies created by Bryan Fuller, the second best man in television, canceled. If it gets canceled then I wouldn't blame Bryan for quitting the industry. Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and then, if it gets canceled, Pushing Daisies all having premature endings would totally devastate me if I were in his position. He's the closest person to Joss Whedon that we have who is still on television. (Although Pushing Daisies has gotten the full season order so things aren't all bad)

And Bionic Woman is slowly coming into its own and it looks like it going to get canceled.

I just wish the writer's strike was going to take place next year.
The following article from TIME has a great, succinct overview of the Implications of a strike

I kinda like the idea of the strike possibly giving new or untested shows a shot in prime time. Plus, the States will get more foreign shows and movies that the networks have, apparently been stockpiling for this time.

It's horrid news for WGA members, of course, and I competely understand and sympathize over the need for the strike. As well as net and DVD residuals, I also hope that the TV as theatre issue comes into play. Fingers crossed this all gets sorted and that all in the industry get a fair slice of the pie.
Writers get such a raw deal here, despite them doing the bulk of the work to make a show or film worth watching. Good on them for standing up for themselves.

I do, however, hope this gets resolved quickly and to everyone's satisfaction. If House has to go into repeats, I will be MOST displeased...
Writers get such a raw deal here, despite them doing the bulk of the work to make a show or film worth watching.

I do, however, hope this gets resolved quickly and to everyone's satisfaction. If House has to go into repeats, I will be MOST displeased...
My Netflix queue has 350 items in it. I hope I don't get through all of it before management comes to their senses.
If it happens, it could just be the beginning, the actors contracts come up next year in June. We may end up seeing both actors and writers on picket lines.
Everything I've been reading about this is all gloom and doom. Maybe there's more depression and anxiety about it than there should be because of the mini-apocalypse and subsequent smoke inhalation hereabouts, but it seems like there are solid reasons why this is a mutually destructive potentially protracted mess. The writers acting without the other guilds may not have enough leverage to move the huge corporate interests against them, while the huge corporations see their entertainment subsidiaries as low-profit already and don't want to give an inch. Meanwhile, TV, which would be the most affected, especially broadcast TV, doesn't need to lose any more viewers, to the detriment of all parties.

I'm glad Joss has a creative outlet in comics, since all his other stuff will probably be stalled soon. Maybe David Fury should check it out, too. His story in Tales of the Slayers was cool.
How much will this affect Goners? Are we close enough that Joss could fudge it and claim any further rewrites are actor or director or producer improv? Could we at least start preproduction? Please?

Pretty please with Mud on top?

Oh, wait, here it'd be 'Pretty please with Turtle on top'!
It wouldn't effect Goners at all, cabri. Unless I'm wrong.

The last big writers strike went on for months. And rightly so, at the time.

One thing it does do, potentially at least, is put producers like Tim Minear and Joss with development deals in a sticky situation. In theory, they get paid via contracts with the studios directly to produce a certain amount of content, and if they're on strike you could well argue they would be in violation of those contracts.
Cabri, suggesting that Joss could or would scab in any way can't be helpful to Joss. Unless a final script of Goners has been submitted before the strike, and he hasn't indicated that at all that we know of, it's stalled until the strike is over. My one tiny hope of more than comic books is that there is a complete script of the Ripper TV movie demanded by the BBC, resting in a vault somewhere in England.
Wouldn't there be hunderds of desperate writers that just don't make it into TV that jump on the chance to get to their try when the "real" writers go on strike?
If the hundreds of desperate writers did that then once the strike was over they'd be blacklisted by the guild and so would be unable to work on anything. So it wouldn't be the best move.
There is so much crap it is amazing they have writers. Anyway perhaps this is the death of tv - the question is, is what comes after better or worse.

Oh and Jackal, they could create a new guild - problem solved.
Good thoughts all, but aren't we looking at the worse? I've been keeping both fingers crossed for next to ever, certainly that means something.

I'm thinking too much again. Really should stop that, it hurts my head.
Here's some reading for anyone interested in what happened during the last strike in 1988.

Medialife Magazine

Here's an interesting blog as well with a take on it ...

SoCal Mom

An article about the 2001 WGA negosiations.

From The Nation
dreamlogic: suggesting that Joss could or would scab in any way can't be helpful to Joss.

Silly me, and I thought I had my tongue firmly in cheek...
Not you, cabri, our sights our elsewhere.
SIMON: The answer to your question is no. All the networks and studios are guild signatories, and on top of that, any writer (whether they're in the WGA or not) who defies the strike rules will be blacklisted by the guild, which would be career suicide. (And I'm hoping/assuming you were kidding when you suggested "you could even get fans writing for the shows", as that's patently preposterous. But funny!)

XEROX: A strike should have no bearing on whether or not Pushing Daisies (or anything else) gets renewed for a second season or not - unless the strike goes on indefinitely in perpetuity, which isn't really feasible. The only thing that should prevent P.D. from getting renewed is poor ratings, strike or no strike.

CABRI, GOSSI: No. The moment there's a strike, it's pencils down for everyone. Not one more word can be written. So unless the script is _done_ (and by done I mean "completed the studio development process - revised, approved and greenlit"), the movie can't really go into production. Fingers crossed that it will be, but I'm not aware that it is yet.

PUMPS: No. (Though I'm assuming/hoping you were kidding.)

In general, I would recommend that interested Whedonites follow the coverage in the industry trades Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, as well as the Los Angeles Times - all available online at www.variety.com and www.hollywoodreporter.com and www.latimes.com respectively.

And FYI...

2007 WGA Strike Rules
http://www.wga.org/subpage_member.aspx?id=2493

(And I'm hoping/assuming you were kidding when you suggested "you could even get fans writing for the shows", as that's patently preposterous. But funny!


My other idea was that the actors just adlib an episode.
Does the strike keep current Guild members from writing overseas? I mean, in theory, could they write for a show on the BBC? *has dreams of Joss writing for Torchwood* At the very least, writers would still be able to create, even if it wasn't on American TV.
Simon: The frightening thing is that I can actually imagine network executives seriously discussing the idea of doing special "improv" episodes of some of their shows. Be careful what you wish for! (The thought of an ad libbed "Lost" or "24" is utterly horrifying, but thankfully I'm pretty sure it'll never happen because of, well, about a hundred different reasons.)

deepgirl187: Now there's a thought.
I do know this - you can't stop writers from writing. If they strike, they'll do whatever they need to do to adhere to the letter of the law, and stop negotiating and delivering, and will (mostly) perform strike support duties - but as for stopping "performing writing services"...

Well, as the Kama Sutra says, on a very different subject, what goes on behind closed doors is secret, and up to the individual. If I wanted to work on something during a strike, no power in the 'verse would stop me, and I wouldn't consider it scabbing in the least. I give no one that sort of power over my life, and I'm sure that's true of many other writers and artists. If I get an idea and need to create, I need to create, and that's it.

Guild rules also require members to inform the Guild of "strike breaking activity" - but if I knew someone was writing on some project, I'd be damned if I'd report them. I think it's absolutely necessary that unions negotiate pay structures and so on, and gods love 'em & support 'em if the strike happens, but seriously - if someone wants to write, they will be writing, and I think they should, if they so desire...

Is all I'm saying...
Gee, advocating scabbing. It just shows how anti union this country has become. It's a shame when people are trying to make a living to whine about how it's going to inconvenience the fans. The writers on shows and in movies don't nearly get the respect the stars or producers of the shows get AND it's their words driving the shows. Many writers are on some sort of freelance or daily hire basis and when they aren't writing for an episotic show they are out of luck with the lack of income.
How about supporting them and their demands OR at least learning about what they want in their new contract before thinking of ways to undermine their cause.
Who are you talking to, biffsbabe?

Most people in here support the writers and their demands, so just wondering to whom you were referring or to what you were reacting...
I'm definitely not advocating scabbing (and since I'm from Michigan, a state known for unions, I hope you know how true that statement is). I just know that as a writer, I wouldn't want to be prevented from my livelihood because the higher ups can't agree.
I think most TV writers will work on spec scripts and on new pilots that they may want to pitch next year. I don't think that would be against the rules.
QuoterGal: Obviously, the WGA can't prevent writers from the very act of writing, in the context of personal creative expression or whatnot. Knock yourself out - and as TamaraC says, work on those spec scripts for dream projects to have ready to pitch post-strike. "Writing" and "writing for hire" are obviously not mutually inclusive.

But the WGA is indeed fully authorized to dictate that writers withhold all writing services from guild signatory companies in the event of the strike. Remember, the WGA = writers, 5,507 of whom voted overwhelmingly (90.3%) for strike authorization.

It is in this context that you assert "If I wanted to work on something during a strike, no power in the 'verse would stop me, and I wouldn't consider it scabbing in the least. I give no one that sort of power over my life." Okay, fine - on the condition that you are only writing for yourself, on a non-struck entity (and if you withhold it, and any pitches or negotiations for it, from all struck companies for the duration of the strike.)

Otherwise, it's very simple - if you don't want to play by the rules, you don't get to play on the team.
I'm saying that "dictate" and "being able to enforce something that is entirely private - even if it is ultimately intended for the public" are two very different things. I'm not talking about delivering writing, or meeting about writing, or negotiating with the Companies or one's agent about writing - I'm talking about sitting at home with a script.

There is a time when one adheres to the "team" rules, and a time to decide for oneself what one personally needs to do. It's going to happen regardless of what any of us - and the Guild - think about it, and it will not mean that said writer doesn't get to "play on the team" - because it is unenforceable. It will affect their union standing not one whit, because the union will not be privy to it.

It may be simple on paper, but it's not simple in reality, and writing is simply not like laying bricks - the mind keeps on working on problems and scenarios, and many writers will keep on writing on whatever they want to. I'm saying I won't blame them or call them "scabs" if they do.


ETA: This is such a good piece of expository writing I want to share it with you'all interested in the WGA's position: WGA Lead Negotiator David Young’s Opening Statement from Today’s Negotiations - October 26, 2007.

"We could argue at length about the economics and prospects of the business. And we have. But I want you to know that our view in this regard is essentially unchanged: despite inevitable challenges, your companies are highly successful. Box office, ad revenue, foreign and ancillary markets all continue to grow and prosper. All of the projections that we've analyzed, including those from industry veterans Adams, Price Waterhouse, Veronis Suhler and E Marketer, as well as your own SEC filings, predict that digital distribution will spur additional solid growth in the coming years.

...

We have to find a way in this negotiation to deal with all of these issues in a manner that is fair to writers and fair to the industry. We want to do that. That is why we are here. 

Whether or not that will be possible remains to be seen. We are well aware that negotiations are about power and the ability to exercise it. We're prepared to do that."


BUFFY: It's about power. Who's got it. Who knows how to use it.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-10-27 23:03 ]
I'm a little confused. QG, I think you're saying: "You can't stop me writing, gorramit!", which seems quite reasonable. But if I'm understanding this correctly, any work at all that is under contract can't be done even if it's not going to be delivered until after the strike.

So, say, if you were David Fury and you decided that you wanted to kick out the remaining 24 scripts during the strike, but the scripts stay in your desk until the strike is over, is this against the rules?
Well, according to the strike rules, he couldn't write for a "struck company":

"As soon as a strike is called, you must immediately stop writing for any and all struck companies. You may not continue to write or complete writing started before the strike for a struck company. You may not start writing on a new project during a strike. You may not perform writing services even if you work at home or at your own office rather than at the company's premises. "

What I'm saying is that this isn't - logically - enforceable, given the current absence of Thought or Writing Police - and that I'm right glad of that. While I'm all for the Companies having scripts withheld until an agreement is negotiated, I'm not for any rule that attempts to govern how individuals handle their own private creative lives. I get the "stop selling" part - but I think the "stop making" part is ludicrous.

So if during a strike, Joss sits at home working out Goners issues in his head, or Bryan Fuller works on ideas for Pushing Daisies - because they want to - more power to them, and therefore, crucial work may quietly continue on some projects we care about just because of the nature of the beast - the beast that is "writing."
"As soon as a strike is called, you must immediately stop writing for any and all struck companies. You may not continue to write or complete writing started before the strike for a struck company. You may not start writing on a new project during a strike. You may not perform writing services even if you work at home or at your own office rather than at the company's premises. "


I don't know, doesn't that sound like a violation of free speech? Writing on your own free time isn't something they really have control over. And it seems to me like the real issue of concern would be scabbing activity. So why the ban on writing for struck companies? I mean, the writers are supporting the WGA. I don't think many of them would intentionally sell a script during a strike.
With much respect in the world to the writers, directors, showrunners, actors, and everyone else in the industry this could negatively effect---this is kinda exciting! Potentially big change!

On the one hand, I kinda hope the strike doesn't last long. That things get resolved quickly and the writers (and then later the directors and actors when their guilds' contracts come up for renewal next year) get their due in a big way. I'd love for the studio fat cats to have to share more, for the ladies and gents at the top to have to spread the wealth a little.

The dismal scenario with things not being worked out...I'm also curious to see that happen. I know personally I'd watch less TV. I already don't watch a whole lot of on-air stuff at the moment--just Dexter, Brotherhood, Heroes, Tell Me You Love Me (almost over), The Office, and Survivor (my one reality-TV enjoyment). I'll probably pick up 24 and Lost again in 2008 if I don't decide to go DVD-only with those. Also watch Entourage, Flight of the Concords, and Big Love (far better Season 2 after the nicely set up Season 1), but those have been on hiatus since August. For me that's less TV than in previous years, but not as little as a couple years ago when I thought Lost Season 2 was sucking mid-season, a bunch of other shows ended (Six Feet Under), and I was thinking of going DVD-only completely.

After getting home at night, without new on-air TV, I'd probably read more (I haven't read an actual book in over a year now--I used to love to read--and I have a stack of comics and trades half my height). Maybe get back into the gym after a year away from it. Or who knows, if I missed TV enough, I might just catch up on the intimidating amount of good stuff that's out there on DVD that I still wanna see, nevermind all the movies. God, the movies...

Entertainment-wise, for the average joe, it really wouldn't be that big a deal. There're so many other ways to be entertained on a regular basis. I love TV, but I can live without it for a while. I used to do it all the time during summers, until premium cable like HBO and Showtime started airing some of their dramas and comedies from June to September.

A perverse, perhaps anarchic(?) side of me would just love to see Hollywood shit itself (uh, more than it already is, I suppose). But chaos is unlikely. If guilds don't budge, the higher ups will probably just find a way to reinvent it all and keep the wheel turning.
Holy goat's milk's batman. The responses are pouring in.

May I eat that crow with a bit of salt?
QuoterGal, my friend, I'm mystified by your problem with the strike rules. I don't think the WGA are trying to be thought police. I think they're trying, from the perspective of the most privileged knowledge there is, to prevent the strike from being undermined in all the possible ways it can be undermined, from within and without. These are rules that the writers have chosen to impose on themselves, through a democratic process. This is oppressive how?
"As soon as a strike is called, you must immediately stop writing for any and all struck companies. You may not continue to write or complete writing started before the strike for a struck company. You may not start writing on a new project during a strike. You may not perform writing services even if you work at home or at your own office rather than at the company's premises. "

Yeah, those rules scream "Avoid the slippery slope!" to me. They are meant to keep the studios from being able to get/pressure the writers to move their operations home and to keep writers from scabbing by working at home. Are writers going to write whatever they are inspired to write? Of course. However, by the rules, they need to be writing it for themselves rather than any struck company. That leaves a lot of room for freedom of expression.
I think what QC is saying is that writers are still free to - you know - write. As long as they don't sell stuff and brag about it on the interwebs. Which is the way it should be.
Bingo, gossi.

And as a person with more than her fair share of anarchistic or possibly libertarian tendencies, I occasionally find democratically-derived decisions individually oppressive. Majority rule may be the best system, but it obviously contains no guarantee of some individual freedoms. I reserve the right to exercise them according to the dictates of my conscience - while, naturally, remaining subject to the attendant consequences.

Not all that mystifying, really...
Say that 10 times. Whilst drunk.
:>

Wish I was drunk. I have o' pile of work to do, and a little toot might be just the thing...

Oh, wait, my friends just voted for me not to have a drink.

*wistfully puts bottle back on shelf.*

;>
I'm hoping that the writers come out of this in a better position than they're in now. The odds for that don't seem to be that strong. Disunity could kill them. Sometimes individuals subordinate their short-term welfare to the long-term, and their individual autonomy to a group, from enlightened self-interest. That's kind of the whole idea of collective bargaining. I'm not even inviting your Ayn Rand ass to join my union, QG. If I ever start a union, that is :)
Ayn Rand is one of my least favourite writers and philosophers ever, dl, but if that's how you're seeing this, have at it.
Damn, that was supposed to be my jokey exit from this thread *sigh* OK, do you want to talk about collective bargaining? I don't think my point that everybody doing their own thing during a strike undermines the collective position is controversial. But have at it.
Majority rule may be the best system, but it obviously contains no guarantee of some individual freedoms.

The point of self-chosen participation in collective bargaining, ultimately, is to guarantee each individual writer's right to get properly paid for the work they produce. Action as a group designed to protect each individual member of that group.

The democratic approach isn't merely "majority rules", but the recognition that some things are best accomplished collectively. That's not a lack of a guarantee of some individual freedoms, it's the recognition that "individual freedom trumps all", in a vacuum, isn't a solution to much of anything.
QuoterGal & deepgirl187: This is really very simple. If you don't want to abide by WGA strike rules, you don't have to - but then you don't get to be in the WGA (though I take it neither of you are). To elaborate on what I said before, you have to play by the rules if you want to play the game (meaning: work as a professional writer in this industry). Don't like the rules? Well, then this isn't the game for you, sorry. (Alternately: work within the system to change the rules... which, actually, what the WGA is doing right now on behalf of writers.)

Again: the WGA is fighting on behalf of writers, for the rights of writers. And yet deepgirl187 is accusing them of violating free speech? 1.) Them's fighting words. 2.) See the above paragraph. 3.) The WGA isn't banning anyone from writing, per se, but prohibiting work-for-hire writing for struck companies... which is the only real leverage they have in the current negotiations with the big bad studios.

And asking "why the ban on writing for struck companies?" Again, that'd be the whole point of the strike, dear.

Writers are regularly and pervasively screwed in this industry, as we Whedonites should be acutely aware. The WGA is taking a (very Browncoat-esque) stand, and I for one applaud them for it.
I don't find the notion that "everybody doing their own thing during a strike undermines the collective position" controversial - since "everybody doing their own thing" obviously is an undefined range of behavior that could include making deals with management, and all the other public behaviors that could signal to management that the strike could be broken. That would be behavior that undermines the strike.

I do believe specifically that an individual privately writing or planning writing during a strike that management can be in no way privy to does not weaken the bargaining position even slightly, because management or anyone else cannot possibly know about it. That's all.

I understand that these rules are in place to protect the writer from management pressure - I get that - if management tries to get a writer to work on their project, the writer can point to it and say, "no can do." That's great. That's when it functions as a protection.

I also know that if a "protection" set up on my behalf becomes confining or irksome, I will ignore it, if I decide that it hurts no one.

A timely example - pedophile laws involving sexual behavior between a consenting 15 y.o. and a 17-y-o. I understand and support the protection of children from predatory adults, but as - many years ago - a consenting and fully sexually active 15-y.o. who had sex with 17-y.o. boys, I find the notion that these boys could have suffered severe legal penalties for this ludicrous in the extreme. There are simply ways in which something enacted for the protection of the vulnerable can be applied to an absurd degree, and in those cases, I opt to go with my own judgment. The law would have said it was "protecting" me - but I did not want that protection in that way.

Could they have gotten into trouble for this? Yes - one may suffer the group or public penalities - so we hid the behavior. Do I think either they or my behavior was "wrong"? Nope, not even slightly.

In the end, much as I understand and support collective bargaining, group efforts, societal rules and protections, I ultimately answer to myself, and cannot abdicate that power to a group any more than is absolutely necessary - and I simply cannot call "putting down my pencil" in private requisite for the greater long-term good.

ETA: 1) The use of the word "dear" is rather condescending, Robogeek, but I gather you found it necessary. 2) If my position does make me Ayn Randish, then so be it. But I think her writing stinks.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-10-28 23:24 ]
I do believe specifically that an individual privately writing or planning writing during a strike that management can be in no way privy to does not weaken the bargaining position even slightly, because management or anyone else cannot possibly know about it. That's all.

The rules are designed to protect the strike from within and without. Not all the members are in the union because of enlightened self-interest, for many it's simple self-interest, and they might well try to get over privately while also reaping the benefits of union membership. The rules may seem draconian, but I assume they're based on all the WGA's past experience with creative scabbing. Hypothetical example: a writer's new notes on an ongoing project stopped by the strike are found to have ended up with the studio. The writer says "Oh those? They're just doodles that I threw out because they were no good. Someone (can't imagine who) must have taken them out of the trash." Under your proposed rule, the scab gets away with it. Under the union's rules, he's caught.

I'm sorry I called you Ayn Rand, since it upset you. I was just trying to be funny. Also, arguably, I only called your ass Ayn Rand. Since apparently we agree that that's the body part that her work naturally corresponds to, can we be OK?

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2007-10-29 00:00 ]

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2007-10-29 00:04 ]
;> Not really upset, dl, just honestly surprised. She's such a damn bad writer, imo, and some of her ideas are so absurd and so flawed, that I was shocked.

I believe we will, as they say, agree to disagree on this one... but I love your persistence, as always.
I believe we will, as they say, agree to disagree on this one

No. Throughout this thread you've been asserting that WGA members have a right (apparently a "natural right") to work in contravention of union rules. We can have a whole discussion about different kinds of rights. But the WGA member and supporters here are citing the actual rules agreed to by all members and saying that, as a matter of fact, members don't have a right to break union rules. I agree with that.

To me, this isn't the kind of philosophical discussion that includes a lot of unknowns and unknowables, and thus a space to agree to disagree.
"But the WGA member and supporters here are citing the actual rules agreed to by all members and saying that, as a matter of fact, members don't have a right to break union rules. I agree with that."

Ah, well. And I don't - in the specific type of rule-breaking I mentioned. So there we go.
Ooooooooooookay. I'm kind of regretting opening up this can of worms now. Despite so many wonderful answers, I'm still a little iffy on when a writer is within his rights and when he crosses the line. Let's use my trusty 24 example again, shall we?

Say 24 has 8 scripts written by midnight Tuesday. A strike is called that drags on for weeks and weeks. Finally, the parties come to an agreement. When the 24 people show up on set the very next day, there are 12 scripts written. Will the writers get disciplined and/or banned by the union?

Edited: Warms, worms, same difference...

[ edited by cabri on 2007-10-29 01:25 ]
I am actually of the opinion that all writers in the WGA should go along with the WGA rules as it is part of the agreement they made when joining.

I am not of the opinion that in order to find good writing work you should have to be part of the WGA. Hopefully this strike will give some up and coming writer some power.

For example, imagine if there was a WGA strike and so a writer came up, pitched this amazing idea and suddenly it was the next big thing. Seriously, something that has a fanbase on par with Heroes. Then he pitches another show or movie or whatever and it's huge as well. Then the strike ends. The demand for the non WGA show or the scripts would not end with the strike, but would the studios be forced to fire the guy in order to get along with the WGA?

I'm curious about that situation.
Will the writers get disciplined and/or banned by the union?

One would hope something would happen, although I have no idea if the union has any power to discipline a writer who works in contravention of strike action. Because, clearly in this case, someone is working for a struck company, whether it be on their own time or not; whether they hand over their work during the strike or after, they are still working during the strike.

In the case of Joss Whedon working on Goners during the strike, that's a more difficult equation - because you can't prove when Joss last worked on the script or when he will next work on the script. It's his baby. Whereas 24 is an ongoing narrative work and it's easier to calculate how much writing has been done and when.

And never apologise for opening up a can of worms - especially one full of worms that are this interesting.
For example, imagine if there was a WGA strike and so a writer came up, pitched this amazing idea and suddenly it was the next big thing. Seriously, something that has a fanbase on par with Heroes. Then he pitches another show or movie or whatever and it's huge as well. Then the strike ends. The demand for the non WGA show or the scripts would not end with the strike, but would the studios be forced to fire the guy in order to get along with the WGA?

In theory that studio/network would be thrown out of the WGA agreement and never ever again be able to hire a WGA writer and have to hope that Wonderboy has a lot of very talented friends who can suddenly work on everything else they do. And that writer would never be able to join the WGA and work for any other studio.
This, now non-WGA studio would then pay all these new writers far less than the WGA rate and not pay them residuals, repeat fees etc. In a couple of years they would realise they were working for peanuts while the studio got rich and then start saying "You know, what we need is a union...."
No, zz9, they'd just fire the writer - and still own the writer's idea, if they'd already paid for it. Also, the WGA wouldn't want to get a whole studio off-side, so they'd be happy with a fired and blacklisted writer who'll neverworkinthistownagain.

I am also of the belief that if a whole studio were blacklisted by the WGA, there would be some trouble with SAG and the DGA as well. So it's in this fictional studio's interest to keep on the WGA's side - so long scab writer!
"Sometimes, there have been a couple of shows that have tried to keep up and running but the results are usually disastrous. In the '81 strike, the show I walked off taped four episodes with scab writers and wound up with three unairable episodes and one that needed extensive repair work. When we returned to our jobs, we were paid our full price to do extensive rewrites on the three, and new segments had to be taped for all four...so those episodes cost a lot more to produce than any others and also weren't as good.

On that program, something interesting (but not all that unusual) happened. The series had several producers and one of them was in charge of recruiting the scab writers. He did, promising three aspiring writers three things. One was that they would be paid the same fee that the "real writers" received. The second was that he would fiercely protect their identities so that they wouldn't get in trouble with the Guild that they hoped some day to join. And the third thing was that after the strike was over and the regular writers returned, he'd find openings to add the scabs to the staff.

He kept zero of these promises. The fee he paid them was Writers Guild scale on a "per writer" basis but it was well below what the regular staff had been receiving. (On some kinds of shows, there's an agreed-upon number called the Aggregate Minimum. Every writer must receive at least the scale payment and the total salaries for writing must equal this larger number. On an hour-long prime time show, it means that the Producer must either hire a lot of writers — so that their combined paychecks equal the A.M. — or must pay some of them well above scale. In this case, he paid each of the three scabs scale but their total compensation was about a fourth of the Aggregate Minimum.)

As for keeping the scabs' identities secret: The Producer thought he might want to join the WGA some day and he didn't want to be accused of authoring the scab scripts so he turned over their names to the Guild and even offered to provide evidence. And of course, after the strike was over, very little effort was made to get the scabs onto the regular staff. In fact, everyone blamed them for the fact that those episodes had turned out so bad, which was probably not fair."
Mark Evanier Oct 7,2007
this would just suck....anybody know the status of the situation as of late? grr arrgh

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