11.07.2007

Hi. I would like to inform you, especially those who are not in the
U.S.
and may not know or care, that the Writers Guild of America is on
strike.

I would also like to encourage some conversation, debate, and support
for
the WGA writers.

The Writers Guild is one of the few white collar/artistic labor unions.
Of
the others, while most SAG (Screen Actors Guild) members are respecting
the
picket lines, the DGA (Directors Guild) is not. The Hollywood
Teamsters,
and also individual Teamsters, are also not crossing picket lines.

The last writers' strike, which lasted five months, gave rise to
reality tv
(which requires fewer, and more easily non-union, writers). This
writers'
strike will take an estimated 1 billion dollars a month from the US
economy. GE, Sony, Time Warner, etc. -- are diversified and
multinational
enough not to care.

The debates are many:

- residuals for online screenings or downloads -- not about
napster-esque
stealing and swapping: the studios are running television shows and
feature
films on their own websites without paying the writers residuals. they
are
additionally saying that these are "experiments" for "marketing
purposes"
while 1) one cable network runs all of its film programming ad-free and
pays
residuals according to contract formulas, 2) part of this marketing is
building share for the network and for the shows, which should be
compensated, 3) we are no longer in the experimental phase of internet
advertising, broadband, etc.

- residuals for the creative offspring of film and tv: so-called "baby
writers" are exploited by the networks, and regular staff writers are
required, to write webisodes for existing shows for internet-only
showings.
neither the creators of the characters, situations -- the show -- nor
the
writers of the webisodes are paid residuals. sometimes, they're not
paid
for writing them.

- do not be fooled by studios saying they want to pay residuals to
writers,
actors after shows or films make a profit. studios, now all part of
large corporations, are now able to manipulate the books so that shows
officially never show a profit. for example, the simpsons, one of the
most
popular and longest-running television shows thus far, and one with
only
voice actors, is officially still in the red.

- the WGA has been forced to make significant cuts in its union health
care
benefit, especially to writers who live outside Los Angeles, and has
extended the number of working years to become fully vested in the
health
benefits.

At any one time, less than 5% of the WGA members are working. the
average
WGA member makes less money per year from writing than a minor league
hockey
player. [there have been some ravings I've heard about the average
salary
being close to what the average first team major league male athlete
makes:
not so]

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