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November 11 2007

John August meets Jane Espenson. Strike: Day Five and two high profile writers/bloggers/WGA members meet and discuss the tricky position Disney is putting their young Fellowship writers in.

Jane's blog is all about creating spec scripts to submit to the kind of Fellowship Program that ABC/Disney offers. Now it looks like those young, non-WGA writers are being forced to cross picket lines - jeopardizing their hopes of ever joining the WGA.

I really hope the WGA gives these folks a break. They are really in a terrible position.
Whoo hoo, Jane! You got to love her.
So, because some young writers signed a contract and are legally obligated to fulfill it, the WGA was thinking about not letting them join, thus screwing their future in the entertainment industry? Yeah, that sounds like a reasonable organization alright. Definitely the kind that deserves my unmitigated support.
While I think the initial behaviour of the WGA concerning those participating in the Disney Fellowship is a stain against their position, BAFfler, it's not really a surprising one. Unions and guilds of all kinds would generally have issue with those who seemingly crossed a picket line in the past if they suddenly wanted to work somewhere where union or guild membership was a requirement. I am sure the WGA quickly realized that it was not the fault of the Fellowship participants but Disney for forcing them to uphold the contract they all signed. More ammo for the war of words ahead, I imagine.
Wait...I agree that nobody comes out of this looking particularly good, but how is this Disney's fault? I dispute that choice of word, BEB, because it makes Disney sound blameworthy for upholding the fellowship standards that everyone knew about beforehand. The studios have a lot to be blamed for in this whole strike situation, but it's hyperbole like that which keeps me from backing either party in this dispute.
Everyone check the update before casting blame:
My current understanding is that the Guild and Disney and their Fellows are all working together on some kind of solution as we speak.
Yay for the update!

But, also, there was no suggestion the WGA even knew of the situation - just that there would always be consequences for writers who worked for struck companies during the strike. It was the fact that Disney enforced these new writer's contracts under such circumstances that made the situation untenable.

Luckily cooler heads do seem to be prevailing.
I apologize for the confusion, BAFfler. I was simply trying to indicate that Disney found themselves in a rather unique situation of having writing staff on hand that were not officially aligned with the Writer's Guild of America, who could be used to generate material to support the company's coffers; the WGA would also be at fault for doing anything resembling actively promoting the idea of Fellowship writers violating their contracts with Disney...regardless of their ethical positions.

I am personally happy that cooler heads are prevailing, since neither side wants to lose access to these writers in the future, either from the consequences of failure to uphold a contract or perceived disloyalty to other writers from crossing a picket line.
FYI, it took awhile, but the Fans4Writers site FAQ now includes short bios, etc. of the people currently behind it.
Yeah, I think there was some jumping to conclusions. I did not think the article had indicated that the WGA had actually done anything, just that the Fellowship Candidates were being put in a really bad position.

B!X et al the site really looks great. The bios really work well.
I submitted a script for the ABC/Disney Fellowship a few months ago and read all of the fine print that I could find. It looked like the contract the Fellowship recipients receive is pretty much a work for hire deal (the studio owns all of the writing you do for the year.) Disney could have tried really wring them dry in terms of forced scab writing. Luckily, it looks like that won't be the case.
Lady Brick, I think that BlueEyedBrigadier is right in saying that Disney wouldn't want to force the best writers who have earned the fellowship to give it up in order to qualify for WGA membership, any more than the WGA wants to intimidate or bully new young writers who had no way of foreseeing this conflict when they won the fellowship. I'm happy to see that both sides are being reasonable in what has to be a unique exception that has nothing to do with Disney seeking out scab labor or young writers intending to be used as scab labor. As far as I can see it was wise of Jane Espenson and John August to notice the possibility of a problem and to diffuse it before it could become one, and as far as I can see no one was using any hyperbole at all.
Bix, that's great! That will probably go a long way towards earning trust in other fandoms.

And for the record: embers just basically said everything I wanted to say here, so instead of posting something myself, I'll advise anyone who got to this comment expecting actual content to go read her comment again ;).
Oh, I know Embers. I just meant that the opportunity was there if the company had wanted to exploit it. I know there has already been some nastiness to the strike, but I don't think that badly of Disney (otherwise, I wouldn't have applied for the Fellowship in the first place.)
BAFfler, unions aren't "reasonable." They're predicated on the exclusion of middle ground. If you could write during a strike AND be a WGA member, then the union really has no negotiating power at all. So, since modern unions, especially white collar ones, generally don't resort to illegal violence to coerce compliance, the *only* tool they have available to them is denial of future union membership and benefits.

That's one reason strike votes tend to get a high turnout. Win or lose, the voters have to abide by the decision of the union; their only alternative is to forsake the union forever.
Win or lose, the voters have to abide by the decision of the union; their only alternative is to forsake the union forever.

Which is basically giving up their career, because to work for an AMPTP company, you have to be a WGA member. So the WGA is not stupid.

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