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IATSE President Blasts WGA Negotiator

November 14, 2007 4:09 PM

Thomas Short, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, sent a strongly worded letter to WGA President Patric Verrone on Tuesday, blasting recent comments by the guild’s chief negotiator, David Young.

Short, whose below-the-line members are losing jobs due to the writers strike, wrote: “David Young is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as delighted he’s being treated ‘like a rock star’ at rallies, and says, ‘I just lay back and look at the havoc I’ve wreaked ... I’m not going to apologize for that.’ This is hardly the point of view of a responsible labor leader.”

Short later writes that Young’s “incompetence and inexperience are causing irreparable damage to the industry” and urged the WGA to “put egos aside” and recognize how crucial it is to “get everyone back to work.”

The WGA president responded minutes ago with a letter that avoids discussing Young, but notes, “Our fight should be your fight. … As we’ve stated clearly, we are willing to negotiate; we have wanted to negotiate; we are here to negotiate.”

Young’s letter is signed, “Fraternally.” Verrone’s letter is signed, “In solidarity.”

The egomaniacal-sounding Young quote also was noted in the Wall Street Journal, as the WGA counterpart to News Corp. President Peter Chernin’s line about Fox benefiting financially from the strike.

But let’s add some context to both: Chernin was speaking during an earnings call and was obligated to accurately answer a question about how the strike impacts Fox’s bottom line. The L.A. Times story about Young describes his “havoc” quote as “half-joking” and gives the full latter line as: “They [the studios] don't care for the fact that I tried to build as much strength for our side as possible. I'm not going to apologize for that."

The reaction to both are reminders that this strike is too harmful, to too many, for any leader to take anything that might be perceived as a victory lap.

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Comments (5)

Disgruntled IATSE Member:

Our fight is your fight? Considering that no one in IATSE gets residuals on any work product how is it IATSE's fight? You have your WGA health plans in tact (most working Americans don't even have that), your WGA pension is funded, and your members aren't working in sweat shops like some children around the globe.

WAKE UP PATRIC! No one in the 225 IATSE crewed positions on my show agrees with the striking WGA members. In fact they're willing to go to blows over the fact that the WGA is putting them on unemployment just in time for the holidays.

You do not have support of the rank and file in the industry as you feel (and it's been falsely reported ) you do. Just because the Celebs walk your line for more personal exposure and free self promoting air time does not mean SAG members support WGA in any way. The celebs want the down time and can afford the down time since the majority walking the lines are pay or play. It's like a 30, 60 or 180 day paid vacation for most of them (depending on the contract). Bring on the 4 hour strike shifts! Sure beats the 16 hour days that the IATSE crew was working trying to save a poorly written episode of Cavemen or Viva Laughlin. Ford builds a bad car it loses money. WGA members write a bad script and feel they should be rewarded in perpetuity. Heaven forbid that the studios try to recoup some of their ad buy make-good costs.

IATSE members work a days work for a day's pay - WGA members must feel that by consistently handing in late scripts that still need to be flushed out that WGA members deserve more. Especially strange since the studios pay writers on studio time, with studio money, to write something for the studio, which the studio then owns yet WGA feels that they deserve above and beyond their already high salary. (There are 3 new Porsches, an Aston Martin, and 2 Range Rovers in our writer's parking spaces - 0 of any of those makes in the IATSE spaces. 1 in the DGA spaces.)

If your beef is that you want to get paid for the new media distribution then have your agent negotiate for you to share the new media distribution rights on a show by show network by network basis when you sign your contract. If you are that good of a writer then it should be no problem. Don't make all of us rank and file IATSE/DGA/SAG members pay the price for your greed. For us we just want to work and save our houses. For you it's a chance to finally talk to a celebrity or spend time at one of your vacation houses.

You say you are willing to negotiate then negotiate on a script by script basis. Don't make the studios choke down an all encompassing new media deal. That's what got you here in the first place. The Studios are going to hold out and sever all of the non productive development deals they were forced to fund last time.

As for the the viewers: this is more than just not having to watch a repeat of your favorite show. This is the lively hood of hundreds of thousands of people and the businesses that support them. If the greed of the WGA prolongs this strike then RIP WGA. The studios have every right to evoke Force Majure and replace you with network staffers so the rest of us can get back to work and feed our families - not our egos.

IATSE too:

Deep down the WGA knows that not only will this strike not help IATSE members, but it will cause them great harm. They don't want to face that about themselves, so they make excuses. Lame ones.

collaterally damaged:

Hey, that was a nice post up there by Tommy Short as "Disgruntled IA member." For more on Short's history of attacking other unions & selling out his own
- http://sagwatchdog.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi/read/598

clarification:

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated between the AMPTP and I.A.T.S.E., IBT Local 399, Studio Utility Employees Local 724, IBEW Local 40, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 78, Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 755, residuals from the reuse and sale of TV & feature films are paid into your pension and health plans.

These payments comprise a majority of the total funding for your pension & health plans:

• From January 1, 2007 – September 1, 2007 residual contributions to the pension and health plans totaled $261 Million Dollars
• Projected residual contributions for 2007: $351 Million Dollars
• Total P&H contributions from residuals in 2006: $339 Million Dollars
• Total P&H contributions from residuals in 2005: $348 Million Dollars

IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF I.A.T.S.E., TEAMSTERS LOCAL 399 OR THE BASIC CRAFTS, YOU WORK UNDER A PENSION & HEALTH PLAN THAT IS ENTIRELY FUNDED BY YOUR EMPLOYER.

• In 2006, residuals accounted for 55% of total pension & health plan contributions.
• The remaining 45% of P&H contributions came from your employers who contribute a fixed percent on your behalf for every hour you work.
• This means that more money is being contributed to P&H from residuals than from hours of work.
• If there are funding surpluses from residuals, retirees receive a 13th & 14th check (instead of the 12 normally paid in a year).
• Monies paid in the form of residuals will provide the MAJORITY of your pension when you retire.

Camera Operator Jones:

Thanks for Clarification...I never heard the details, but knew our residuals went into the
plan instead of our pockets. So, whenever someone
does not have enough hours and becomes ineligible
for health plan coverage, he/she has effectively
lost those residuals, while their residuals continue to benefit workers still eligible for medical coverage.
Hmmmmm....maybe better in our pockets after all?

As for WGA, I support their purpose and feel the studios/giant media corps are not approaching
negotiations fairly. We all know that if THEY want to spend the bucks (for salaries, sets, costumes, LAVISH executive office decor, etc.)
the money is magically there!
Otherwise, rising production costs are killing them!

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