Writers Union Recommends Immediate Strike
Writers Union recommended immediate strike in their Thursday evening session attended by about 3000 members. The board will vote today when the strike should begin, the most likely date being Monday, November 5.
There are over 20 issues the writers union and the alliance of producers are fighting over, the most crucial ones being: DVD residuals and compensation for new media distribution (Internet, cell phones, etc.)
The writers are currently paid roughly 4 cents from the sale of each DVD - they are asking for 8. They are not paid for new media distribution (for instance, when TV shows are streamed over the Internet). The writers union believes they should be paid even if the end user is not paying to watch the show.
The studios on the other hand say that the DVD issue is the most serious roadblock to continuing negotiations. They say DVD sales are necessary to set off losses resulting from rising costs of production and marketing and doubling residuals for writers is out of the question.
What does that mean for the viewer?
TV shows are in various stages of production, but most have filmed about 10 episodes of their respective seasons. The writers have meanwhile completed at least 13 or several more episodic scripts.
"24" and "LOST" have filmed even fewer episodes since they began production late. Most shows begin filming in early or mid July, whereas "LOST" began lensing its fourth season in late August and "24" delayed filming till early September.
Unfortunately, it seems the networks will be forced to shutdown production immediately despite having those few extra scripts - the writers are needed during the filming as scripts are often rewritten at the last minute.
Also, many of the writers and union members work as showrunners or executive producers and without their presence the shows won't be able to continue production.
That means, unless the strike is resolved quickly, the networks will run out of new episodes by Christmas or January. Fresh installments of late night talk shows and daytime soaps will be the first to disappear.
Many businesses in California that cater to the entertainment industry, (e.g. restaurants, car rentals, etc.) are also afraid of the financial impact of the strike.
It is not clear how long the strike will last, but everyone is hopeful that it will be shorter than the last strike which took place in 1988 and lasted for 22 weeks.
The actors union also expressed its support for the writers, but they will not be able to join in as their union contract with studios expires in June 2008.
Writers will be expected to close their laptops and take part in picketing studios. All members are encouraged to report any writers who break these orders. They will then be tried in union hearings and disciplinary measures will be taken against them.
It is however not expected that any members violate strike rules - the strike has received an overwhelming 90% approval among its member base.