“I think if they could do this business without us, they would, and so making our task as mechanical and simple and low-paying and unartistic as possible,” Mr. Verrone said.
This is exactly what is happening in all spheres of employment and is being particularly noticed by many because all the forces that allow and encourage globalization now have jobs moving not just to your smarter/faster/cheaper neighbor across the street or in a different state, but around the world.
It's interesting to note that in the entertainment industry there was a boom in demand for graphics and cartooning people several years back with an explosion of Disney blockbusters. Then CGI-animation caught up (and surpassed?) hand-drawn animation. Along with this , the large entertainment companies outsourced hand-animation overseas so that most animation is no longer done here, e.g The Simpsons is done in Korea . Disney itself cut most of it's animation staff a couple years back and now relies on CGI graphics (which can be done anywhere in the world) and lower-cost hand-drawn animation overseas .
The real question is 'what job CANNOT be done , and done cheaper, outside the U.S.? ' .
Screenwriters Dig In for an Extended Brawl
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 — Eight months ago, in a contemplative moment, Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America West, sketched out what could have been a script for the collision that wrecked talks between Hollywood’s producers and striking writers on Friday.
During an interview in his office here, Mr. Verrone described the looming negotiations with employers as a confrontation much grander than a simple fight over pay formulas. This battle would be about respect.
Writers, he said, were looking to restore a sense of leverage and status that had been lost as ever-larger corporations took control of the entertainment business. He described Hollywood as teetering on the brink of a dark age, as far as creative types were concerned. “I think if they could do this business without us, they would, and so making our task as mechanical and simple and low-paying and unartistic as possible,” Mr. Verrone said.
The solution, he added, was to squeeze the corporations that own the studios, in an effort to represent the legion of writers on reality and animated shows that the guild had not organized through sign-up drives.
“There are things we can ask for in bargaining that will allow you to reach up to the mother ship and then back down into the nonunion company,” he said.
On Friday night, five weeks into a strike that now promises to drag on well into the new year, seriously complicating plans for this television season and the next, and opening the door to a tube filled with reality shows and other substitutes, it suddenly became clear to all involved that Mr. Verrone and the other guild leaders were serious about their writers’ revolution.
After days of haggling over complicated formulas for Internet pay, the latest round of talks blew up over the deeper issues that had been buried inside the writers’ contract proposals.
Accusing guild leaders of pursuing “an ideological mission far removed from the interests of their members,” representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expressed outrage over continuing demands of the writers that were not strictly related to pay.
These include requests for jurisdiction over those who write for reality TV shows and animated movies; for oversight of the fair-market value of intracompany transactions that might affect writer pay; and the elimination of a no-strike clause that prevents guild members from honoring the picket lines of other unions once a contract is reached.
The tone of shock in the producers’ statement seemed a bit artificial, as Mr. Verrone has for months laid out his plan to elevate the writers’ industry status. Yet their anger is genuine. Executives know that to concede the writers’ noneconomic demands would lead to a radical shift in industry power. Only a death wish, for instance, would prod companies to let one union walk out in support of another, particularly on the eve of negotiations with both the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, whose contracts expire in June. “It’s kind of like saying ‘Oh, while we’re in the middle of this knife fight, I demand the right to have a gun next time,’ a comment on a screenwriters’ blog, The Artful Writer, said.
Similarly, company negotiators know that to grant jurisdiction over workers not currently represented by the guild would bring up against legal questions — can they impose union membership on a unit whose members have not signed up? And it would lead to a collision with other unions.
That matter provoked a blast on Friday night. Thomas C. Short, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which already represents some reality and animation writers, compared the writers’ guild leadership to “a huge clown car that’s only missing the hats and horns.”
As the strike drags on, it appears increasingly likely that the television business, which is more sensitive than the movie industry to short-term dislocations, may be in for some deep changes. One possibility is that networks will use the walkout as an opportunity to end their costly practice of presenting new programs to prospective advertisers in an elaborate spring road show known as the upfronts. Instead, they might opt for simple visits to the main advertising agencies.
Networks could also use the strike to end a television development cycle that has them all chasing the same stars at the same time for fall programs that make their debuts en masse. Instead, they might develop new offerings throughout the year.
More narrowly, Friday night’s breakdown marked the failure of an effort by the companies to reboot the talks as a more tightly focused negotiation, despite earlier bad blood. The companies’ strategy, more or less, had tried to close a gap on issues related to electronic delivery of movies and television shows, holding back a sweetened offer for Internet downloads as a closer that would be added at the last minute, giving Mr. Verrone something on which to claim victory.
For that to work, however, Mr. Verrone and his colleagues would have had to abandon the quest for not just a bigger share, but a bigger place in the business.
In a Sunday interview, Mr. Verrone said nothing was nonnegotiable. Union leaders, he said, were thinking “we were in a negotiation, where they would talk about these things.”
And anyone who thought that they would simply surrender just was not listening.