Sent in by Mr Balcer --
Rene Balcer and Sam Waterston picketing outside Chelsea Piers in New York City last Wednesday, Nov 7.
This is from Rene Balcer (and no, it's not about the library)
To our fans,
Just a few comments about why we writers are striking.
This strike is about a very basic principle of American Enterprise – if you create something, you should share in its success. Simple and fair, right? Well, management (the owners of studios and networks)doesn’t think so.
Writers, actors, members of the Directors Guild along with Teamsters who work in the film and TV industry and members of IATSE (another film/tv craft union) all get a form of compensation called residuals, either paid to them as individuals or contributed into their union’s health and pension fund.
Residuals are deferred compensation paid when a TV show or a movie is re-used (as a rerun for example) or resold (on DVD). Those residuals can run from pennies (I’ve actually gotten a check once for three cents) to tens of thousands of dollars.
Given the nature of this business, most of us work intermittently. You have good years and you have bad years. The average writer makes about $62,000 a year. And residuals are what get you through the lean times. Residuals allowed me to continue writing and develop my craft.
Management has proposed a series of measures which – if we agreed to them – would within a few years eliminate residual payments to writers. And if somehow they got writers to agree to these proposals, actors, members of the Directors Guild, Teamster and IATSE members would be next on the chopping block.
Residuals have long been considered part of a partnership between management and the creative community that allows the entertainment business to develop and sustain talent for everyone’s benefit.
Now, in an era of unprecedented profit, management wants to renege on that partnership.
That’s why the WGA is taking a stand by going on strike.
This is not a strike directed at the fans. But you don’t have to stand on the sidelines. There are reasonable people on the management side, people who still respect the partnership with the creative community. You can send a message and empower them to prevail over their more militant colleagues. Write the networks and studios, write their corporate owners – encourage them to return to the negotiating table and strike a fair deal with their creative partners.
In the meantime, please know that all of us writers at Law & Order, LOCI and SVU appreciate the expressions of support we’ve seen on the fan sites over the last few days.