Friday, February 09, 2007

American negotiations

The Writers Guild of America west and East are gearing up for the latest negotiations to renew their Minimum Basic Agreement. As explained by writers and bloggers, Craig Mazin and Ken Levine, the issues at stake - notably royalties and residuals in the digital age - are similar to those being addressed by the WGGB.

3 comments:

  1. Gail Renard10:41 am

    Naturally we at the WGGB share a lot of the same concerns as our American brothers about negotiating for the digital age, but it's worth remembering some of our differences as well. The WGA East and West have to negotiate for health care packages for their members as well, whereas we rely on good old Dr. Finlay and the NHS. This was reflected in some of the lower royalties and residuals the Americans accepted in the past. But our guiding principles, of writers being paid fairly whenever and wherever our work is used, is the same on both sides on the pond.

    The Americans are formidable negotiators (I wouldn't like to go up against them!) and I hope honour is satisfied in their current talks. But if, heaven forfend, the WGA has to strike, WGGB writers will have to stand by them... no strike breaking allowed!

    Gail Renard, Chair WGGB TV Committee

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  2. Anonymous7:32 pm

    What we need are formidible negotiators this side of the Atlantic.

    If the WGA did have to strike that would mean all professional writers in the U.S. since they have a closed shop. On this side of the Atlantic we don't. So what is the WGGB doing about anti trade-union legislation? There are members of the WGGB who don't even believe in the closed shop, I've met them. Plenty of British Writers are having to rely on a second job for income so striking shouldn't be a practical problem for them but what about those whose main or only source of income is from writing? Would they be so happy to strike when there are other writers who wont even join a union yet alone strike?

    Trade Unionism has still to learn how to make itself relevant - and I believe it is - to the modern citizen who has been brainwashed over the last twenty-eight years by various shades of right-wing governments.

    I don't recall anything in the WGGB's Secretary's Report last year relating to the TUC Conference. I know the WGGB isn't affiliated to a political party but isn't it affiliated to the TUC?

    Food for thought?

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  3. Gail Renard5:39 pm

    Firstly the WGGB does have formidable negotiators. Bernie Corbett is a Grand Master of trade union negotiation, and the Guild is lucky to have him as chief negotiator.

    Also on the team is Katharine Way, WGGB Chair; J.C. Wilsher, former WGGB President; and myself, former Chair and current Chair of the TV Committee.

    The Guild has recently negotiated some agreements that are the envy of other trade unions.

    And yes, the Guild is TUC affiliated. And yes again, it would make life easier if Britain had closed shop trade unions like America and the WGA. But our countries have different laws and cultures, and the WGA has the advantage that LA is an industry town. Add to that the pull of offering private health insurance to their members without which, in America, one is stuffed. That gives the WGA even greater power.

    Let's hope the WGA doesn't strike because, as loyal trade union affiliates, the Guild would have to back them. It's easy to be a trade unionist when times are good; it's less so when times are harder.

    Which brings us back to the beginning: great negotiation is paramount for avoiding strikes. We can travel hopefully.

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