2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike
|2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike|
Striking WGA members at
|Date||November 5, 2007 – February 12, 2008|
|Caused by||Lack of agreement on a new contract between |
|Goals||Increase funding for writers|
|Resulted in||Agreement to end strike reached on February 12, 2008|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
From November 5, 2007, to February 12, 2008, all 12,000 film and television screenwriters of the American labor unions
The strike sought increased funding for the writers in comparison to the profits of the larger studios. It was targeted at the
Negotiators for the striking writers reached a tentative agreement on February 8, 2008, and the boards of both guilds unanimously approved the deal on February 10, 2008. Striking writers voted on February 12, 2008 on whether to lift the restraining order, with 92.5% voting to end the strike. On February 26, the WGA announced that the contract had been ratified with a 93.6% approval among WGA members. The Writers Guild later requested a court order seeking that the agreement be honored and implemented.
The guilds were on strike for 14 weeks and 2 days (100 days). In contrast, the previous
The resolution of the strike was unclear: while they lost out on short-term deals, they received a new percentage payment on the distributor's gross for digital distribution based on the deal that the DGA made during the strike.
— AMPTP president Nick Counter
— WGA Negotiating Committee
Every three years, the Writers Guild negotiates a new basic contract with the
Among the many proposals from both sides regarding the new contract, there were several key issues of contention including DVD residuals, union jurisdiction over
In 1985, the Writers Guild went on strike over the
Prior to the strike, the home video market had become the major source of revenue for the movie studios. In April 2004, The New York Times reported the companies made $4.8 billion in home video sales versus $1.78 billion at the
WGA members argued that a writer's residuals are a necessary part of a writer's income that is typically relied upon during periods of unemployment common in the writing industry. The WGA requested a doubling of the residual rate for DVD sales, which would result in a residual of 0.6% (up from 0.3%) per DVD sold.
The WGA provisionally removed the increased DVD residual request from the table, in an effort to avert a strike and on the understanding of certain concessions by the AMPTP, the night before the strike began. However, after the strike began, WGAW President
There was no change to the calculation of DVD residuals.
Driven by the then-recent contract between
Prior to the strike, the WGA had no arrangement with producers regarding the use of content online, and two models of internet distribution were negotiated. The first is "electronic sell-through" (also known as "Internet sales" or "digital sell-through"). In electronic sell-through, the consumer purchases a copy of the program and downloads it to a
In either case, the program may be viewed directly on a computer or on a traditional television via media distribution devices (e.g.
It was widely expected by industry observers that new media would eventually supplant both DVD in the home video market and television in the broadcasting market as the primary means for distribution. As in the mid-1980s, the companies argued that new media represents an unproven and untested market and asked for additional time for study. However, feeling resentment from the 20-year-old home video deal and unwilling to make similar concessions in a so-called "new market" yet again, WGA members remained adamant that whatever deal they made for new media, it could not resemble the DVD formula.
This sentiment was further articulated by a self-described "skeptic", writer Howard Gould, at a meeting of the full WGA membership the night before the strike date was announced. He said, to a standing ovation:
Soon, when computers and your TV are connected, that's how we're all going to watch. Okay? Those residuals are going to go from what they are towards zero if we don't make a stand now. ... This is such a big issue that if they see us roll over on this without making a stand - three years from now, they're gonna be back for something else. ... I might have been the most moderate one up here when we started, but I sat there in the room the first day and they read us those thirty-two pages of rollbacks. And what they wanted us to hear was that "if you don't give us what [we] want on the important thing, we're gonna come after you for all those other things." But what I heard was, if we give them that thing, they'll still come after us for those other things. And in three years, it'll be "we want to revamp the whole residual system," and in another three years, it'll be "y'know what, we don't really want to fund the health fund the way we've been." And then it will be pension. And then it'll be credit determination. And there just is that time when everybody has to see—this is one where we just gotta stand our ground.
Despite the strike, the WGA "didn't get anything close to what they wanted" in New Media. Instead, the WGA took the DGA's deal: For downloads, writers were granted 1.2% of distributor's gross receipts for rentals and 0.65%-0.7% of gross receipts. For ad supported streaming writers were granted 2% of gross receipts beyond the initial 17 days.
Exactly if and how the WGA's Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) should apply to other TV and film categories such as
— AMPTP statement: The State of the Strike: Day 47
Programs such as
In the summer of 2006, the WGAW attempted to organize employees of
Animated films and TV programs have also been an area of heavy contention. The majority of animated film and television writing is not covered by the WGA's MBA. Most animated feature films have been written under the jurisdiction of another union, the
The WGA and the IATSE have an ongoing disagreement as to which union should represent animation writers.
Regarding reality programming, the WGA requested contract language clarifying that reality programming does fall under its jurisdiction. They further proposed the adoption of a credit, "Story Producer" and "Supervising Story Producer" to be given to those writers performing story contributions to a reality show.
As for animation, the WGA proposed clarifying its jurisdiction to cover all animation in TV and film that did not encroach on the jurisdiction of another union.
WGA president Patric Verrone announced that the reality and animation jurisdiction proposals were formally removed from the table.