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WGA Contract Negotiations Break Down Because of the Out-of-Touch Arrogance of CEOs

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 23, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 23, 2023 |


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After a prolonged period of silence, negotiations between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the AMPTP have broken down. The AMPTP’s strategy became apparent when they went public 20 minutes after the meeting ended. They’re not trying to compromise. They’re attempting to score points with the public and turn writers against each other.

The AMPTP extended their first (and only) counteroffer on August 11, publicly touting the package as one that “meets the priority concerns the writers have expressed.” It was all corporate posturing; the WGA says that their offer, while improved, continues to be riddled with limitations, loopholes, and omissions that fail to protect writers, particularly new ones.

This week, the WGA accepted in good faith an invitation to meet with the CEOs, among them Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Disney’s Bob Iger, and Warner Bros Discovery chief David Zaslav. I can only imagine what the tone of that meeting sounded like — a rehearsed lecture designed to shame the WGA into accepting the AMPTP’s terms. The specifics of those terms can be seen here, and while there are a lot of words, a deeper look reveals that the AMPTP is doing little for the writers who need the most protections. Their counter on minimum staffing is a joke, and the counterproposal on AI is a bunch of corporate doublespeak. It’s not designed to prevent the use of AI; it’s designed to give writers credit for the work of AI (probably because it will then allow the studios to more easily copyright the work).

The WGA came away from the meeting angry and even more united. I don’t blame them; I’d feel the same way if I got a lecture from obscenely wealthy CEOs about accepting less than I asked for.

The WGA explained in a letter to their members, “all the ways in which their counter’s limitations and loopholes and omissions failed to sufficiently protect writers from the existential threats that caused us to strike in the first place. We told them that a strike has a price, and that price is an answer to all — and not just some — of the problems they have created in the business. But this wasn’t a meeting to make a deal. This was a meeting to get us to cave, which is why, not 20 minutes after we left the meeting, the AMPTP released its summary of their proposals. This was the companies’ plan from the beginning — not to bargain, but to jam us. It is their only strategy — to bet that we will turn on each other.”

The WGA has sought to engage in good faith, and it has consistently been met with strategies designed to divide and conquer instead of actually addressing the problems. The CEOs are trying to trick their way out of the strike instead of paying. The writers are asking for a dollar, and the CEOs are offering them a quarter, telling them to be thankful for it, and going to the public and calling the writers spoiled for not accepting their pittance. Imagine being told by the guy in the header photo to be grateful for their “generous” offer. It’s pathetic, and during a period of increased labor activity and public sympathy for the unions, it’s not going to work.