STRIKE COVERAGE: AMPTP Accuses WGA of Blacklisting Tactics
Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Rips Writers Guild of America for Encouraging Reporting of Strike-Breaking Activities
By Ben Grossman -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/13/2007 2:49:00 PM
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Tuesday fired back at the Writers Guild of America for sending out information on how to report strike-breaking activities by guild members.
“The WGA is using fear and intimidation to control its membership,” AMPTP president Nick Counter said in a statement. “Asking members to inform on each other and creating a blacklist of those who question the tactics of the WGA leadership is as unacceptable today as it was when the WGA opposed these tactics in the 1950s.”
The WGA produced information that can be found now on its Web site under the headline, “How to File a Report of Strike-Breaking or Scab Writing.”
"Mr. Counter's charge is as offensive as it is untrue," the WGA responded in a statement late Tuesday night. "To accuse the Writers Guild of America of blacklisting, when it was we who suffered the most from it in the past, is simply Mr. Counter's desperate attempt to divert attention from the fact that it was he who walked out of the negotiations, and it is he who refuses every day to return to the table. The WGA has an offer on the table and is ready and willing to meet with the AMPTP any day, anywhere."
The WGA West, which has a Strike Rules Compliance Committee, has a phone number for members to report other members.
The WGA said the 12-person committee’s mission is “to discourage violations of the Guild's strike rules by investigating allegations that writers are undermining our strike efforts by engaging in strike-breaking activities or scab writing and, in appropriate instances, by recommending action against such writers. By doing so, we hope first and foremost to discourage such writers from breaking the strike rules.”
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For full coverage of the strike, click here.
-"Blacklist". It may be (understandably) difficult to do so, but let's strip
away the emotional baggage this word carries, and look at it from a
purely technical point of view.
The WGAw (and, I imagine, its counterpart in the east) has set up a
committee to investigate strikebreaking and scab activities. A Guild
member who engages in such activity faces penalization in one or
more forms, up to and including expulsion from the Guild, thereby
rendering him or her unemployable in any meaningful way as a writer
in the movie and TV industry. And if I'm not mistaken, a non-Guild
member (like myself) who does any writing for a studio during this
strike will face the almost-certain possibility that he or she will not be
allowed future membership in the Guild.
If that's not a "blacklist", what is it? These people are being deprived of
actual or possible careers the same way the blacklisted writers of the
Now lest you think that this constitutes criticism or disapproval of the
Guild's actions, I offer you my second thought:
-While the *effect* of the Guild's actions would be the same as that of
the infamous '50's blacklist, the *reason* for the Guild's blacklisting
can be defended on moral grounds. The Guild can take no other
course of action in this strike. Discipline has to be enforced, and the
picket lines honored, or else the Guild gets broken, and the AMPTP
gets to run roughshod over present and future writers. Kiss residuals
goodbye, and expect to be paid once for content that the studios get
paid for over and over again.
So while Mr. Counter's use of the term "blacklist" is technically correct,
it is nonetheless reprehensible, since his intent is to play on our
emotions in order to draw a parallel with that "other" blacklist where
none exists. I have no problem calling it a blacklist, nor do I have any
problem supporting this particular one. As Mr. Davis states in his
comment, the Guild is not acting against its "staunch" members, only
those who would undermine its objectives.
David C. Matthews - 11/14/2007 8:38:00 PM EST
Mr. Counter doesn''t know what he''s saying. It''s time he stepped down from his post. We of the WGA (both WGAw and WGAE) are not doing anything against our staunch members. We are brothers and sisters in solidarity and will sit this one out until Mr. Counter decides that our position is the correct one.
Joel Davis - 11/14/2007 4:49:00 PM EST
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