December 17, 2007


As the WGA-initiated strike now enters its seventh week, the strike’s economic consequences are growing more severe by the day. The below-the-line workers whose families depend entirely on our industry have already lost more than $200 million in the Los Angeles area alone, and the health care benefits for many of these families are now in real jeopardy because of the WGA strike. The working writers themselves have now lost more than $115 million, and these writers are no closer today to getting their fair share of new media revenues than they were when the strike began. The economic impact to our regional economy is also growing. By January, the economic losses to the region will exceed $200 million a month, with as many as a third of the entertainment industry’s 250,000 jobs jeopardized.

In the face of these crippling losses and the real hardships that average working families are now facing during the holidays, we wonder whether the people in charge at the WGA now regret openly bragging in the media that “we are winning this strike,” or appearing before the cameras like “a rock star” (to use the description offered by the WGA’s chief negotiator David Young). According to the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Young quipped "I just lay back and look at the havoc I've wreaked."

“Havoc” has certainly been “wreaked” by the WGA’s actions, but it is now clear that there are no “winners” in this strike. Simply put, this strike cannot be resolved until the working writers – who are a valued and vital part of our business community – decide that their union should adopt a reasonable, consistent, and practical negotiating strategy.

It is simply not reasonable to persuade union members to authorize a strike over new media issues – and then to create a negotiating deadlock over jurisdictional issues that would have little benefit for working writers. It is not consistent to proclaim at a rally one day that the jurisdictional issues will be in the final contract, while saying the next day that this strike is about new media. And it is simply not practical to lurch day-by-day from one tactic to another -- filing a specious NLRB complaint on one day, and then a day later defying long-standing industry practices by embarking on the doomed strategy of company-by-company negotiations.

Unfortunately for all of us, the WGA’s existing unreasonable, inconsistent and impractical negotiating strategy is guaranteed to produce only losers in this strike. The WGA’s organizers refused to engage in early bargaining and then started this strike, and their subsequent negotiating tactics have ensured that the hardships suffering by below-the-line workers and their families will continue to worsen.