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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

DMc is always worth reading, but be sure to check out today's post about how everybody better hope the WGA strike isn't crushed by management. He quotes:
In his book Confessions of a Union Buster, Martin Jay Levitt details the techniques he learned in his many years attacking unions. A key element is the demoralization of the union members during any industrial action against the company. Taking away people's hopes, their aspirations for a quick resolution to any labor dispute – that was Levitt's job. "If you can, make the union fight drag on long enough, workers...lose faith, lose interest, lose hope."
So next time you see an article about how two soap writers crossed a line (they didn't) or how a late night host is crossing the line (one is, but not Leno, or Dave Letterman, or anyone who counts), or how TV Guide readers are against the writers (they're not), you know where it's coming from.

And there's more at United Hollywood:
A few years ago, I was on the WGA Negotiating Committee. As negotiations with the AMPTP were drawing to a close, I went to a dinner party where I happened to be seated next to a gentleman who until recently had been for decades the chief negotiator for the Companies in another segment of the entertainment industry. He was a wiry guy, and he had a sense of humor. When I asked him if he was the Nick Counter of that particular part of the industry, he smiled and said wryly that he thought he was better than Nick but, yes, that was a fair comparison. He said he knew Nick and admired him. For an hour and a half, sprinkled in with the small talk, he told me about his negotiating strategy. After the party, I went to my car and jotted down as much of it as I could remember. I thought it might be useful to share it with you now:
Strategy for Hardball Negotiations:
Piss off the leaders and spokespersons for the other side. A leader who loses his temper loses something in negotiations. Why?
  1. Anger clouds judgment.
  2. It’s human nature to want to be liked, even in a tough-as-nails negotiator. A person who loses his temper is embarrassed, usually comes and apologizes, and always gives something away to get back into the good graces of the other side.
The end game is the money, but hardball negotiations aren't about money, until the end. The real game is dividing and conquering.
Tactics:
  • Lower the expectations of the other side, divide and conquer.
  • Raise and lower the expectations of the other side, divide and conquer.
  • Do everything possible to destroy the credibility of the other side’s leadership, divide and conquer.
  • Use confidants and back channels to go over the heads of the stronger leaders to the softer targets. Divide and conquer.
  • When you figure out the other side’s bottom line, offer a fraction. It’s surprising how many times that stands.
Sound familiar? If you examine the recent "leaks," comments, and press releases from the other side, you'll realize this is exactly the strategy the Companies are employing against us today. And why not? It's worked for them for the last 20 years! They are putting us on an emotional roller coaster by raising and lowering our expectations, attacking our leaders, trying to pit the town against us, refusing to move on the issues that matter to us, bragging about their generosity when the opposite is true, fear mongering and claiming we're going to ruin this industry – hoping we'll splinter, lose faith in and attack each other, negotiate against ourselves, and cave.
Gee, that does sound familiar. And it explains why the the AMPTP keeps coming back with ridiculous, insulting, b.s. offers, doesn't it? Doesn't it all become clear now?

So let's stop calling them "the producers" or "the studios" and use a term everyone understands: "the bosses". And if that sounds too red, use "management." Everyone knows that means "the bosses." And everyone knows how they feel about them.

Because I agree with Denis. If they can crush the WGA, and roll back residuals, guess who's next?

(Oh, and, here's a petition you can sign that goes to the AMPTP asking them to negotiate a fair deal. 60,000 signatures so far.)

(Oh, and -- I've been reading a lot about aspiring and emerging writers schmoozing up pro writers on the picket lines. Good work, guys! This is probably your best bet in the next twenty years -- God willing -- to hang out with the people who write your favorite movies and shows. And because it's Week 5, they are probably even more grateful for new blood -- and new conversation topics -- in the picket line than they were four weeks ago. So if you're an aspiring writer within driving distance of New York or LA, TAKE A PERSONAL DAY AND GO PICKET. You would have to be NUTS to pass up an opportunity to spend four hours walking around with John August, or Jane Espenson, or Ken Levine, or the 30 ROCK writing room, or the writers of LOST, or any of the other three thousand picketers. Dig?)

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3 Comments:

I just got back from the New York picket lines (I'm one of the aspiring writers you just mentioned), and to anyone going, bring good gloves and warm shoes. I also have a question for Alex or any writer's reading this. There was another aspiring writer near me in the line, and his attempts at talking (i.e. networking) with the writers there seemed obnoxious. On the other hand, no one wants to spend 4 hours walking around without talking to anyone. So what's the best way to be friendly without getting on anyone's nerves?

By Blogger Michael Sterling, at 4:29 PM  

Use your social skillz!

I'd walk for a bit before asking a bunch of questions.

Then I'd ask a few questions about their picketing experience.

Ask them about THEM, ON THE LINE, for at least an hour, before you dive into fandom or self-promotion.

Seem reluctant to promote yourself. The fact that you are there already promotes yourself; you don't need to hang a lantern on it.

If anyone asks, you're there because you hope to be a WGA writer some day soon, and you don't want to get screwed by the AMPTP when you do.

Which has the side benefit of being true.

The more you seem to be there to support the strike, and the less you seem there to schmooze, the better you will accomplish your schmoozing.

Such is show business. "Sincerity. If you can fake *that*, you've got it made."

Bringing Starbucks can't hurt, either.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 4:51 PM  

Yeah, I hate to say it. but writing is a Darwinian game. If you can't fit in on the line with guys and girls who are walking around in a big circle for four hours, yer probably not going to kill in the room.

By Blogger DMc, at 10:33 PM  

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