I’ve learned that the WGA is currently working on newsletters to distribute to crews and other industry workers to explain its position in the face of what it is calling the AMPTP’s “misinformation” campaign. This follows anecdotal reports I’ve received from various network shows that crews are expressing their anger about the looming strike. I’m told that Tuesday morning, from 6-8 am, WGA members will be handing out flyers to union truck drivers and any driver who enters five of the major lots. A strong showing is being requested “to show the AMPTP that we are able to mobilize our members”.
“Most” Hollywood Teamsters, aka Local 399, will honor WGA picket lines, a union insider tells me today. AMPTP is suddenly feeling the heat from the Teamsters’ support of the WGA. Nick Counter’s toothless letter notwithstanding, a producers’ source admitted to me tonight there’s “nothing illegal about Leo Reed invoking the ‘conscience clause’. But the problem is he hates this industry.” How much this could disrupt Hollywood production will depend on how many picket lines the WGA can set up and for how long. Based on what I’ve heard tonight, I’d say the Teamsters’ role could very well prove to be a turning point in these negotiations.
The AMPTP identifies the mediator to me as “Juan Carlos Gonzalez of the US Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Gonzalez has been a Commissioner of Mediation since March 2000. Prior to joining, he practiced as an attorney in Los Angeles. He holds a Juris Doctor Degree from Whittier Law School in Santa Ana (1998), a Master of Clinical Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles (1995) and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University (1985). He also holds a second degree black belt in the Japanese Martial Art of Aikido.”
The producers (AMPTP negotiating committee, studio and network moguls, PR mavens) spent Monday caucusing and continuing to prepare for Tuesday’s talks and a possible strike beginning Thursday. They hope the mediator “can at least help clear the brush so we can get to the vital issues.”
The WGA side held meetings over the weekend. Tonight, I obtained an email from one of the strike captains informing members, “We were told, ‘It looks like we are going to have to strike.’ Basically we are at a standstill. Rumors suggest that the AMPTP is internally divided. The WGA asked to negotiate over the weekend. The AMPTP refused that.”
On Thursday, the WGA is holding a large general membership meeting at the LA Convention Center, West Hall “B”, at 7:00 pm where it will be announced if the negotiating team is calling a strike or not at 12:01 am. I’ve learned that writers are being told by email that if they need to leave work early to attend the meeting, they do have the legal right in the state of California to attend a union meeting.
Friday would be the WGA’s possible first day of picketing, according to emails I’ve obtained. “You will picket your place of work, or the studio who employs you. Shifts will be 9 am-1 pm and 1 pm-4 pm. Picketing will continue like this Monday-Friday.”