Friday, November 30, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 26

No picketing today, and since it's pouring rain in Los Angeles maybe that's a good thing. The blackout on official strike news was finally lifted last night and the news on the negotiating front was not great, but then expectations of a quick resolution were probably unrealistic from the start. Hank Steinberg, creator of WITHOUT A TRACE, sent out an excellent open letter that I've reprinted below. We live in interesting times, indeed!

FROM HANK:

To my fellow writers,

I'm sure tonight's email from the Writer's Guild was a
tad disheartening, particularly after expectations
were raised this week that we would be close to making
a deal and that the studios were prepared to make
substantial concessions.

I spoke to a member of the Negotiating Committee
tonight to get more enlightened myself as to what the
hell happened: what was the disconnect between the
rumors and expectations and the dismal results of this
week?

The answer, apparently, is that this is precisely the
studios' strategy: raise expectations through
disinformation in the media and elsewhere, get us
feeling comfortable, get us psychologically used to
the idea that the strike will end, and then dash those
hopes. This is essentially what they did on november
4th and they are trying to do it again. That is why
they leaked the news to nicky fink on monday that the
deal was essentially done. If we go soft and get
comfortable, the thinking goes, we'll end up accepting
a shitty deal. Apparently, this strategy has worked
for them in the past but we can't let it work now.

As long as we understand what they are doing and why
they are doing it, we should not be disheartened. The
studios' real mandate is to close this deal by mid to
late december to get the tv season back on track in
january and to save their pilot season. They have no
urgency right at this moment to resolve this. Their
coming back to the table now was part of a p.r.
mislead and was actually meant to raise our hopes,
then thwart them as a means of psychological warfare.
To wear us down. They will, in fact, probably not
negotiate for real until closer to their mid-december
deadline and in the meantime will try to work on our
collective resolve.

So although the idea of picketing for a couple of more
weeks doesn't sound particularly glamorous to any of
us, we're still in good shape to make a fair deal and
we shouldn't allow their tactics to dampen our spirits
or forget what it is we're striking over in the first
place. They need to make a deal, they will make a
deal, they just want to gauge us as much as they can.
I thought it enormously helpful to understand where
they are coming from and hope it will help you too.

The leadership understands that an informed
constituency is a motivated constituency and members
of the leadership and negotiating committee will be
out on the picket lines on monday to elucidate some of
this and to answer questions, but no reason to churn
and stew all weekend til then.

So rest up this weekend and don't despair.

And by all means, feel free to forward this email to
any of our brethren.

We're all in this together!

Hank

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