Number-crunching is never easy. Or fun. Or interesting. Or often understandable. But the number-crunching elves in the Writers Guild Forest, lead by Chief Elf Chuck Slocum (his official title. Really!) are hard at work trying to figure out whether the deal the AMPTP corporations offered to the Directors Guild is a good starting point for the WGA or not.
Some things must be put on hold, and this is one of them. On the surface, some issues look extremely good, some look extremely bad. But what they really look like in the light of day waits to be seen.
Two issues are clear immediately, however.
The first is that the AMPTP would never have offered any of the steps forward to the directors if the WGA hadn't been on strike for 2-1/2 months, catching networks by surprise and stopping production of television, forcing movies to be put on hold, putting pilot season in jeopardy, putting the next television season in jeopardy, putting the Oscar telecast and its $100 million payday and promotional bonanza for movies in jeopardy, putting the Grammy's in jeopardy, jettisoning the Golden Globes, creating the potential of advertising "give-backs" into the billions of dollars, and creating deep dissension within the AMPTP itself, with independent deals already made with United Artists, Spyglass Entertainment, Worldwide Pants, The Weinstein Company and many more on the verge, as up to 25 requests come into the Writers Guild office a day, every day. Not to mention significant Internet deals with Yahoo, MRC (funded by AT&T and Goldman, Sachs), Jackson Bites, and many more notable deals on the verge.
And most critically, the AMPTP would never have offered what they did without all the unrelenting attention the WGA put on the union-breaking importance of New Media.
Not only did the AMPTP have to make this deal with the DGA - a guild that has only struck once in its existence, for five minutes - and make it now, but the DGA - a guild which 24 years ago egregiously gave back 80% of home video residuals - could not afford to close its eyes completely a second time, without causing a revolt among its members. Again, whether the deal both sides struck is a good one for directors (still yet to vote), and one that is in the Writers Guild's best interest (this is, after all, a deal for directors, with different concerns), remains to be seen. But it's a starting point that wouldn't have existed without the ground laid for them.
The second issue that's clear is this:
Whether this deal is good or bad for writers: these terms could have been offered a month ago.
It's a mark of shame to the AMPTP corporations that it wasn't. The Writers Guild has been trying to negotiate such areas, and the AMPTP response was not to negotiate in good faith, but to walk away. Shameful.
The excuse by the AMPTP corporations about Guild leadership has always been a canard. The excuse about the "six issues" that had to be removed from the table has always been a canard.
(For linguistic purposes here, "canard" is being used in place of the more confrontational "big fat lie, so big and so fat you would choke on it, if you could even get it to leave your gut.")
And the two canards are provable.
It's a fair guess that now that they have their deal with the directors, which is what they've wanted all along, the AMPTP corporations will happily negotiate with WGA leadership. The same WGA leaderships they've insisted they couldn't negotiate with. Indeed, just as the WGA will happily negotiate with AMPTP negotiators. That's the way negotiation works.
(Side note: perhaps the most-hated negotiator by management in recent history was Marvin Miller, who as executive director for the baseball players union was nonetheless able to get arguably the most important labor settlements in professional sports history, including collective bargaining, and arbitration.)
However, the canard (see above) of the "six issues" was perhaps even greater. It's not just that this was never an issue the WGA would strike over - critically important as it is to address (with despicable 90+-hour work weeks and no health care for Reality writers). But this was something the AMPTP corporations could easily have addressed if they'd wanted to.
Consider: if the AMPTP had actually wanted to settle the strike a month ago, rather than walk out and prolong the agony to the Industry and the people of the city of Los Angeles, they could have sat down with WGA negotiators and said, "Let's put these six issues off to the end, and settle the biggest things first." That's standard, the WGA would have happily agreed, and they could have hammered out a deal. Then, the AMPTP could have said, "Y'know, we've had second thoughts. We gave up a lot, so we're not going to offer anything on these six issues. This is our deal, take it or leave it."
And the Writers Guild would have presented it to their membership. And the members would have taken it. And the strike would have been over. A month ago. And you know this is true, every word I say. (And by "you" I mean - you. Whoever you are. Including AMPTP trolls making comments, or AMPTP executives, or rocks.)
But the AMPTP corporations wanted to prolong the strike, so they could get to the directors first, where they knew they could get some sort of deal. Happily, because of all the pressure put on by writers, the DGA was able to get a far better deal than they would have gotten otherwise, then even they might have dreamed they'd get.
Whether directors will approve, we'll find out. Whether it's good for writers, we'll find out. But at least the AMPTP got what they wanted - a deal first with directors. They just had to delay the strike for a month to do it.