Do not, repeat, do not, believe anyone who claims that the writers strike is over yet. (Like the sign says in photos taken by Jim Stevenson from today’s WGA picket at Disney Studios.) Here is what informed sources are telling me as to the WGA’s plans for the next few days…
The WGA leadership is hoping to finish tonight or early tomorrow drafting the language of the deal they’ve negotiated with the moguls. (“Our friends at the DGA didn’t leave us language that could serve as a template. In fact, the DGA has no language beyond what was in their press release because they figured they had until June to work it out,” an insider tells me.)
Then the WGA intends to email to members and/or post on the WGA.org website that language so the members will have an opportunity to digest it before Saturday’s meetings.
On Saturday, the WGA West membership meets at the Shrine Auditorium and the WGA East convenes at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Times Square for a definitive informational confab with the leadership. (A guild phone bank has been making calls to members today urging them to attend.) The WGA governing bodies intend to “take the temperature” and “get a sense of the room” at this time. There’ll be lots of open mike time “where people can say whatever they want,” I’m told. Everyone anticipates these will be very long and very contentious meetings on both coasts.
On Sunday (not Monday, as some thought), the WGAW Board and the WGAE Council both meet and will have to vote to approve any tentative deal before it goes to a membership vote. So, the WGA’s Negotiating Committee, WGAW Board and WGAE Council all must approve the contract before any decision on a strike can be made. Board members tell me that, since the WGA governing bodies were authorized by the membership to call the strike, then those bodies are authorized to call it off. (In Article IX, Section 3b, it states that the restraining order has to be authorized by the membership to start, but that it remains “in effect until withdrawn by the Board.” So the Board has the constitutional right to lift the restraining order at their discretion.) As I’ve reported previously, the moguls have insisted that the WGAW and WGAE governing bodies call off the strike before the membership ever formally votes on the contract, apparently so the CEOs, especially Disney chief Bob Iger, can count on an unpicketed and well-attended Academy Awards in 16 days.
I’m told that one of the purposes of Saturday’s informational meetings is for the governing boards to decide whether the membership will approve the contract or not. This, insiders say, will determine if the bigwigs call off the strike or not.
Once the governing bodies recommend the contract and call off the strike, then procedures will kick in to send out ballots to the membership on both coasts to vote on the contract.
Of course, some snafus may occur. For instance, I’m told that if no draft language is ready in time for Saturday, “it’s a very different ballgame”.