Here are my thoughts following Day Three of our struggle.
I want to give special recognition to Tom Johnson, head writer of Talkshow with Spike Feresten. Tom was hit by an overly aggressive driver at Sunset Gower Studios on Monday and sustained minor injuries that required a trip to the emergency room. We all owe Tom our respect and admiration for taking a bullet (or at least a fender) for our cause and I know I speak for the entire membership when I offer my personal gratitude.
Our membership support is extraordinarily solid. Over 125 showrunners picketed Wednesday at Disney and an ad featuring some 400 screenwriters (including some of the biggest names in the business) will appear in Thursday's Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Members have come from as far away as Amsterdam to picket and we have received e-mails of encouragement from all over the world including writers in India and Afghanistan.
Closer to home, presidential candidate John Edwards sent us a statement of support and Rev. Jesse Jackson will be walking the picket lines with us at Paramount on Thursday. Encouragement, support, and even refreshments continue to be provided on the picket lines from SAG members while ACTRA (the Canadian actors union) has issued a letter of support. Talent agencies have also been sending food to the lines and Paradigm picked up the check for lunch for over a hundred showrunners at the Smokehouse in Burbank.
May I also recognize the tremendous pressure the employers have brought to bear on the Teamsters. We have seen acts of solidarity and we are getting assistance from many Teamsters but it cannot be detailed or it will stop. We should be grateful for every driver that has the courage and the consciousness to turn his truck around and refuse to cross the line and we should understand that this is an act worthy of the greatest respect.
Finally, I'd like to address a concern that, spoken aloud or not, is on the minds of everyone. We are not currently at the bargaining table and people want to know when we will return. Before I answer let me remind everyone that it was nearly four months between the time we put our proposals on the table in July and the first time we had a single counter proposal from the AMPTP on new media issues. The companies sought to get us to bargain against ourselves in that time. Thanks to the resolve and patience of our negotiation committee, we did not. The last move made on Sunday was our presentation of a comprehensive package. It is up to the companies to respond to that package. When they indicate that they are ready to do so, we will return to the bargaining table as soon as possible.
Patric M. Verrone
President, WGA West