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WEEK ONE: An Important Strike Update from WGAE President Michael Winship
Dear Fellow Members of the Writers Guild, East:
Over the last week you have demonstrated your overwhelming support for our strike against the studios and networks with a passion, commitment and solidarity that have been inspiring.
Last week, hundreds of you participated in our pickets at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Silver Cup Studios in Long Island City, the Chelsea Piers Studios on the West Side Highway, the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle and NewsCorp's headquarters on Sixth Avenue. The high visibility and publicity generated have been remarkable, sending a message loud and clear to the media conglomerates: we cannot, will not, be ignored.
I thank you so much for your efforts. I thank our dedicated staff for their hard work and long hours. And I thank the many other unions who have joined us on the line, including the New York City Central Labor Council and members of SAG, AFTRA, Actors Equity, IATSE Local One, the American Federation of Musicians, Teamsters Local 817, Laborers Local 79 and many others.
But of course we've just begun. The hard work continues. For this effort to succeed, all of us are going to have to stay involved and pull together. Thus far, the other side refuses to come back to the table, even though we know there's a fair deal waiting to be made, a deal that can be accomplished quickly and simply if they will merely recognize that they must share a small part of future revenues from the Internet and new media. If they get paid, we must get paid.
In areas like streaming video, despite the fact that it earns studios and networks significant advertising revenue, we get exactly nothing, because they claim its use is simply promotional. According to writer Greg Daniels, executive producer of "The Office," their show "has received seven million downloads. It generates the most traffic at NBC.com. We received a daytime Emmy for webisodes that no one was paid for."
By way of comparison, for the first three quarters of 2007, NBC Universal earned $2.2 BILLION, 5% more than the profit it recorded in the same period a year ago. Over the same period, the overall profit of its parent company, General Electric, expanded 9%. GE's revenues in the third quarter alone were $42.5 BILLON.
The package we're asking for – from ALL the studios, from ALL the networks, from ALL the massive, global media conglomerates that own them – is less than $200 MILLION. That's MILLION. With an "M." Over a period of three years.
A lot of you have asked what more you can do. Right now, the primary thing is to show up for the picket lines. We'll let you know where and when and you always can check on the Guild's website.
This week, there are major actions planned Tuesday in the Wall Street area and at the Disney Store's Fifth Avenue and 55th Street location on Wednesday. Our website has all the info.
Another thing is to keep an eye out for movies and television shows being shot in your neighborhood. If you see camera equipment and vehicles or the police permit signs posted in advance of a location shoot, let us know so we can plan potential pickets. Call Chris Aikin, the Guild's organizing coordinator, at (212) 767-7808.
What's more, you, your family and friends can write or call the studio and network heads to voice your support of the Guild and the fair contract we seek. Those names, addresses and phone numbers can be found on the website, too.
Let us know your ideas for activities, voice your concerns, ask questions, and most important, be a part of this historic moment in Guild history.
Among his other wondrous strengths and abilities, Mahatma Gandhi was a hell of a labor organizer. He characterized the arc of a protest against power in a way that may feel familiar to anyone who has been involved in our battle.
First, they ignore you, he said. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
We're in the thick of the fight, not just for ourselves but for future generations, not just for writers but for everyone who labors in the entertainment industry. And we will win.
Writers Guild of America, East