Sunday, December 16, 2007

Micah's Post

(Steve's preamble)

..because things don't go away on the internet, they simply get shuffled lower on the Google search. Outside of the Army Ranger stuff which you can read about HERE and draw your own conclusions, here is his POV'd blow by blow about what happened at Nickelodeon back in 2001. I have my own points of view, which I will save for later in the debate.

(Note: I changed the link to Micah's actual comment on it, per his request.)


Wednesday, Nov 07

(Micah's commentary, copied from mediabistro.com)
I came to this guild having had a "successful" career writing Animation for $1400/week for five years. During that time, I wrote on several of Nickelodeon's highest-rated shows. My writing partner wrote and directed 1/4 of the episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and I was responsible for 1/5 of the episodes of The Angry Beavers. The current value that those shows have generated for Viacom? $12 Billion dollars. My writing partner topped out at $2100/week. In the year 2001, tired of not receiving residuals for my endlessly- repeating work (even though the actors and composers for my episodes do), I joined with 28 other writers and we signed our WGA cards.

So, Nickelodeon quickly filed suit against our petition for an election, and set about trying to ferret out who the "ringleaders" were. In the meantime, they canceled the show that I had created 4 episodes into an order of 26. Then they fired the 3 writers who'd been working on my show. Then they fired 20 more of my fellow writers and shut down three more shows, kicking almost their entire primetime lineup for 2002 to the curb, and laying off 250 artists.

Then, once the WGA's petition for election was tied up in court over our illegal firings, Nickelodeon called in the IATSE Local 839 "Cartoonists Guild" — a racket union which exists only the screw the WGA and its own members — and they signed a deal which forever locks the WGA out of Nickelodeon, even though we were there first. Neato!
Then Nickelodeon's brass decided--out of thin fucking air-- that myself and two other writers had been "the ringleaders" of this organizing effort, so they called around to Warner Bros. Animation, the Cartoon Network, Disney Animation, and Fox Kids, effectively blacklisting the three of us out of animation permanently.

And why did Nickelodeon do this? Why were they so eager to decimate their own 2002 schedule, fire 24 writers, break multiple federal labor laws, sign a union deal, and to even bring back the fucking blacklist? They did all of that to prevent us from getting the same whopping $5 residual that the actors & composers of our shows get.

For five lousy fucking bucks, they destroyed three people's careers and put 250 artists out of work and fucked up their own channel for a year.

Ahh, but my episodes run about 400 times a year worldwide, though, so obviously Sumner Redstone (Salary in 2001: $65 million dollars) and Tom Freston (2001 salary: $55 million) were right to do what they did... myself and those other 23 writers might have broken the bank, what with each of us going to cost them another TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS each! OH NO! That... that's... FORTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!A YEAR!

So don't come crying to those of us who have EXPERIENCED what the AMPTP plans for all of the rest of you, that people who are deciding to stand up to bully-boy tactics like that are the crazy bunch of "horads" lustily marching "through" the streets searching for blood. The AMPTP are the barbarians sacking Rome in this scenario.
The AMPTP and their glittering-eyed weasel lawyers are a bunch of lying, blacklisting, law-breaking scumbags, and the fact that they haven't budged off of ANY of their proposals in the last three months proves that what they have in store for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU is exactly what they did to us at Nickelodeon, and what they can do any day of the week in daytime animation. Or reality.

Strike or no strike. That's their plan: to winnow down your membership, to snip away at your MBA, to chew away at your health & pension plans until there's just nothing left of the WGA. Why? Because they've had a good strong drink of how much money they make off of animation when they don't have to cut the creators in for any of the cash, and now they want to extend that free ride to all of live action as well. THAT is why they have pushed for this strike at every step, with their insulting press releases, with their refusals to negotiate, etc.--because they're HOPING we go on strike, and that enough cowards and Quislings come crawling out of the woodwork after six weeks that they can force us to accept the same deal that Reality TV show writers have.

If you doubt me, go read their contract proposals again... there's not ONE of them which isn't an insult and a deal-breaking non-starter.
So can we PLEASE stop hearing about how it's the current WGA management which is the fucking problem here? Because, frankly, that canard is getting a little stale.

Or perhaps you prefer presidents like the President of the Guild back in 2001 who just threw up her hands when we were fired and blacklisted out of our careers and said, and I quote, "oh well, it was a good try"

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not sure who is talking here, Micah or Steve, or Che Guevara. But good luck to all of you and your crusade for crap cartoons. This blog is officially a joke.

Steve said...

Gee, I'm sorry you're too busy being a snot to take a moment to think.

I'll make it a little more clear, for such as yourself.

Old Saint Nick said...

Way to stir some shit up Steve. Can't wait to read IA's version of these events. My two cents: Micah's a blowhard and his "revolucion" was ill timed. Some advice: dude, get your show picked up, on the air, and a hit --then demand shit. (Which, by the way, is absolutely deserved! No way anyone can honestly argue otherwise without sounding like a jerk.) So instead of residuals and decent health care Micah got served a raw deal by IA and Nick, with an extra helping of fuck you sauce.

While ya'll ponder the soon to come IA response I'd like to throw some extra napalm on the fire. Check out the attached link if you're interested in some IA/Tom Short backstory:

http://sagwatchdog.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi/read/598

Happy holidays.

Steve said...

Nick;

I do not disagree with some of your points. But I'm tossing out his view points because I think it's valid to the case, and he's CLEARLY on one side of the issue.

I also managed to find his caveat about the "Army Ranger" issue.

Golly, I would love it if somebody besides Steve HULETT or Kevin Koch weighed in, but I welcome their weigh in as well.

- Steve

Kevin Koch said...

Simply put, EVERYTHING MICAH WROTE ABOUT THE IATSE LOCAL 839 IN THIS PIECE IS DISHONEST AND UNTRUE. The Animation Guild had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to Micah while he was writing at Nick, while the WGA was trying to organize Nick, and what happened to Micah after he left Nick. NOTHING. Except in his fevered brain. I've gone into specifics before, repeatedly, but hey, if you think Micah has valid points about animation organizing or Army Ranger tactics, that's your choice. (And looking carefully at some of the other "facts" he cites about what happened at Nick, I think there's a little bit of untruthiness in several of his other assertions about Nick and what they did. But you know what -- arguing point by point with people like this is a waste of time.)

What I find more interesting in carefully reading Micah's later paragraphs (which I frankly hadn't paid too much attention to before) -- the part about what the AMPTP is doing right now is how nutty it is. Flat out nutty. He's actually making the case that he knows for a fact that the AMPTP's real and sole goal is to completely destroy the WGA, so that it doesn't exist, so there is no health and pension and minimums and residuals in any form for live action writers. I have some issues with Patric Verrone, but even he isn't hard-core enough to believe that batshit baloney.

Kevin Koch said...

And now I've read Micah's "mea culpa." Wow, that's some good stuff. Reminded me of comments I've read from Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair. What a self serving pile of shite.

His friends thought, on their own, because he was in ROTC, that he had been in the Army? Did they discuss that on the short bus on the way to the special school? How, exactly, did a few friends supposedly misconstruing ROTC with real Army ("a lingering impression" -- Hah!) become "the old Ranger lie"? Was it because it wasn't ever the friend's confusion, but instead something made up to inflate his importance and make him more interesting? 'Cause that's how this stuff starts -- it starts early, and small, and people like the attention, and they like being close to important events that have nothing to do with them. It's like a drug, and it tends to grow and expand. There's a touch of sociopathy to it, an enjoyment of seeing how outrageous the lie can be and still be believed.

But let me thank Micah for "telling the truth" about what happened in Panama. Good thing he stole all those real Ranger's stories and claimed them as his own, because otherwise the world wouldn't know what happened. Thanks to Micah's righteous anger, the truth came out. Go Micah!

Oh, and he only brought up the Ranger stuff for protection from internet wackjobs? Then why did he repeatedly and prominently mention it in association with animation writing and comic book work and on and on? Why did he use the "Ranger status" to trick Kurt Vonnegut into doing an introduction for his book, or to get work? Oh, I see, it's okay to commit fraud, as long as you're not trying to be a cop. I'll have to remember that one.

Oh, and we learn much of Micah's real motivation for this web of lies wasn't self aggrandizement and profit -- he was really testing the media! See if they're on their toes. Wow, good thing he caught them not doing their fact checking. Thanks, Micah, for protecting us from the mainstream media.

Oh, yeah, and the one part of the media that actually checked his background, the Washington Post, who discovered it was all bullshit? I like how he had the integrity to report his big lie BEFORE they outed him. Yes, I believe the Washington Post had nothing to do with him finally coming clean. It was just one of those weird coincidents that, the day before the Post was publishing documentation that he was a fraud, he decided to admit it all himself.

"This is not a case of imminent exposure bringing about this confession, this is a case of me stepping up to the plate and admitting what I have done."

Good on you, my man! You've got brass balls the size of cantelopes. (And hey, I don't care if that damned Post reporter Richard Leiby says you're being dishonest about this, too, cuz you're proven to me that the corporate media can't be trusted).

God, the more I read this clown's own words, the angrier I get. There's not one iota of genuine apology in that entire piece. There's regret at being caught, which consistently twists into self justification and then outright back patting.

I know it sucks to be a pudgy, greying white guy trying to make a living writing cartoons instead of a deadly African-American Ranger vet battling the Bush administration. But keep up the good fight, Micah. I'm with you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your leadership, Kevin. We are only as strong as the integrity of our membership. Plagiarists and those who misrepresent themselves to their art should NEVER be excused in our field. I wish not to share hard won IATSE benefits with these types AT ALL.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear what Kevin thinks about Mr. Short's organized crime background that Nick linked to. Because as anonymous suggested, if integrity is important, then IA's got some serious integrity problems at the top. Micah may be many things, but he's not president of the WGA.

Steve said...

And I would love a point for point, Kevin, because Micah's stuff has been widely spread.

That's why it's there.

And jeez, Anonymouse above the above mention anonymous, you can't identify yourself when all you're doing is flagwaving?

old saint nick said...

Steve. I toldja you'd be stirring it up. Clearly the Micah post hit a nerve. Well shit howdy! Maybe there's something to all that IA Nickel-and-dime-alodeon collusion after all. Never thought there was before.... Until now. I'd also be interested in a point by point by point. But leaving the army ranger nonsense out of it. It's immaterial. We get it. Micah likes to make stuff up and has a hankering for histrionics. I'm more interested in knowing when IA organized Nick in respect to the WGA organization? The Facts. Not aspersions of character. Because that shit flies both ways.

Steve said...

I agree.

The AMPTP loves to play the whole divide and conquer thing. I love that they are making/asking the studios to negotiate individually.

That being side, back to this:

I've sent Micah an E-mail letting him know this debate was going on. I intentionally linked his response to the "Army Ranger" thing because I believe people goof up, and should be able to make amends. AND... one doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the other, unless you're using stuff against someone to make a point.

Maybe he'll weigh in, maybe he's done with it. Either way, I'm glad the debate is happening.

Kevin Koch said...

Hey, old saint nick, I didn't realize we lived on Bizarro Earth, where pointing out a lie is evidence that the lie is truth. I'll keep that in mind in the future.

And your opinion that "it's immaterial" that Micah likes to make stuff up and be histrionic -- yeah, totally immaterial. Couldn't be related to this issue at all.

And hey, if you think that shit flies both ways, show us where I've built my career on fraud and lies? Seriously. I've probably written ten thousand posts on blogs, Animation Nation, in the Peg-Board, and there's plenty about me on the internet. Show us where this is the pot calling the kettle black?

I think the ol' "nobody's clean in this mess" or "the truth must lie somewhere in the middle" attitudes are evidence of lazy, uncritical minds.

Anonymous said...

GR8, Steve! U 2 go ahead and txt each other. perhaps U can hire him to write 4 ur nxt gig!
LOL

Alex Weitzman said...

At the least, this is all very interesting. And it sure does put a face on the wingnut side of the creatives. (A face that, apparently, likes to have Halloween camo makeup put on it so it can climb up the tree in its backyard and pretend to be waiting for VC.)

By the way, whichever Anonymous is which, Steve just linked it/posted it. He didn't say, "THIS WORD IS LAW." Do you get anonymously angry at The History Channel for showing you footage and information about evil Mongolian barbarians?

As for Micah Wright (whose scenario I was not familiar with beforehand), this all sounds pretty wacky. I'm sure the "suits", for lack of a better term, are not especially fond of creative organizations for the mere fact that organized labor usually means stronger opposition and power struggles. Still, I'd need a tinfoil hat before I started claiming that they had a conspiracy to literally tear the organization apart, if only for the mere fact that such a feat would be extremely unlikely. And the pariah element of his own personal story makes his conclusions hard to swallow.

old saint nick said...

First off Kevin. No one cast aspersions on you. It's Tom Short, your boss, who we goof on. So my man take a step back from the ledge man. If you want to imagine someone did, or I did, then have at it dude. It definitely makes this place much more interesting to read. I, and Steve and probably many others, are just interested in what what the official IA version is of the Nick/IA thingee? I believe this is the third time this has been asked and you've managed to avoid each time by going off on "Micah be ka-razy rants" or you go off parsing my parsing of your parsing. Dude. What's the deal? Just answer the question.

writer of wrongs said...

Alex,

There are many wacky things in Micah's essay. Yes. Many. But some things are true.

Fact: he tried to organize Nick writers under the WGA.

Fact: Nick said no.

Fact: around the same time all Nick writers were forced to work under the IA or they would be out of a job.

Cheers,

Writer of wrongs

Steve said...

Kevin;

This is not "a trap."

I've just seen this post on United Hollywood and a few other places and wanted to bring it up here, for discussion.

I hope you DO have time to lay out the history lesson that you have, on more than one occasion, put here. It would be appreciated.

Chat atcha later.

- Steve

Alex Weitzman said...

Writer of Wrongs (P.S., all you anonymi - now THAT'S a handle):

I was indeed curious about whether any of the specific facts were true. Ultimately, I'd need to see more exact evidence either way as to whether these facts (in particular, the firings in relation to Micah's organizings) are indeed connected or whether they're just strange coincidence. But I certainly concede that, as described, it doesn't make Nick look especially good.

Still, I wouldn't want to cast aspersions as freely and venomously as Micah does. I'd just like to hear more. Count me as one more raised hand for a Kevin Koch point-by-point.

Kevin Koch said...

Sorry some of you seem to think I’m dodging this. I responded in nauseating detail not once but twice on The Artful Writer blog, and on United Hollywood, and Steve Hulett posted a slightly briefer version on the TAG blog. I think I’ve wasted probably 20 hours of my private time refuting this nonsense, and the most salient part is the statement I’ve made here, that there was no collusion between Nick and 839, and that the 839 organizing effort took place about a year later than the WGA effort. I notice “writer of wrongs” has now chimed in (is that you, Micah?) again claiming that “around the same time” the Nick writers were forced to work under the IA. You’ll reread all this below, but the easily verifiable truth is that it wasn’t around the same time (and, since Micah claims all the writers were fired and the staff laid off, how could it have even happened that way?).

It’s frankly mind-numbing constantly dealing with the exact same nonsense. Everyone can find the accusations, but no one can find the truth. Okay, here's what you asked for. This is very long, so hopefully it won’t completely blow out the comments function. And Steve, you might want to make your comments box scalable. At least on my browser, the size of the comments box is locked, and it's tiny.

I'll start with Micah’s original piece. I'll try to put any comments I'm writing tonight in between double arrows (>> <<) to keep it clear, but I'll be commenting on comments to comments, and it may get confusing. Anyway, I think he wrote the original piece for Writer Action. Of course, since that’s a WGA-only site, it’s impossible to contest or refute it there, and more than a few writers have reposted it in a knee-jerk fashion, without questioning even the internal inconsistencies of the piece. But that’s the world we live in, where truth takes a back seat to sensational accusation.:

I came to this guild having had a "successful" career writing Animation for $1400/week for five years. During that time, I wrote on several of Nickelodeon's highest-rated shows. My writing partner wrote and directed 1/4 of the episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and I was responsible for 1/5 of the episodes of The Angry Beavers. The current value that those shows have generated for Viacom? $12 Billion dollars. My writing partner topped out at $2100/week. In the year 2001, tired of not receiving residuals for my endlessly-repeating work (even though the actors and composers for my episodes do), I joined with 28 other writers and we signed our WGA cards.

>>Okay, so far so good. I’m not going to question the veracity of any of this, though I do think it’s cute connecting SpongeBob, one of the most successful shows ever and which Micah didn’t write for, and Angry Beavers, which he did, in that “$12 billion dollar” figure. But that’s cool – it makes him sound more important. <<

So, Nickelodeon quickly filed suit against our petition for an election, and set about trying to ferret out who the "ringleaders" were. In the meantime, they canceled the show that I had created 4 episodes into an order of 26.

>> I’ve tried to figure out what show it is that Micah created and had four episodes done when it was canceled because he signed a rep card. I can’t find any entry on his website or his IMDB listing that seems to match such a show. Is it Constant Payne, which supposedly was canceled because of 9/11, and which didn't have 4 shows produced? Anyway, that’s a trivial point. <<

Then they fired the 3 writers who'd been working on my show. Then they fired 20 more of my fellow writers and shut down three more shows, kicking almost their entire primetime lineup for 2002 to the curb, and laying off 250 artists.

>> Since Nick wasn’t connected in any way with TAG 839, I have no way of verifying how many people they laid off, when they were laid off, or if those lay-offs were connected to the WGA effort. Micah also gives no dates for any of this. I had met with Jerry Daly, the WGA organizer in 2001, and walked the WGA picket line, and I was regularly seeking updates in late 2001 and early 2002 about what was happening at Nick . . . and I don’t remember any sudden layoff of 250 people. Maybe it happened the way Micah claims, but it sounds exaggerated to me. Any of those 250 animators who were there at the time want to chime in?<<

Then, once the WGA's petition for election was tied up in court over our illegal firings,

>> I’m no expert on union law, but this doesn’t sound right. My understanding, from the WGA organizer at the time, was that the WGA never did file a petition for an election with the NLRB. Instead they held the mock election that was verified by a Los Angeles assemblyman (i.e., one for publicity, and which had no legal standing). And filing suit over illegal firings (which I haven’t seen any evidence of, and would be interested if Micah actually has this, as he should) shouldn’t block filing a petition for an NLRB election. <<

Nickelodeon called in the IATSE Local 839 "Cartoonists Guild" a racket union which exists only the screw the WGA and its own members, and they signed a deal which forever locks the WGA out of Nickelodeon, even though we were there first. Neato!

>> So neato that it’s complete fiction. (1) The Animation Guild wasn’t called in by Nick. Not at the time, not a year later when TAG actually negotiated with Nick. This is the big lie of the piece. (2) TAG 839 has existed for about 60 years to serve the needs of its members. Its membership has always included animation writers. There was no conflict with the WGA for most of that time, because the WGA couldn’t have cared less about animation writers until about a dozen years ago. (3) As for screwing it’s own members, I guess if decent salary minimums, a health plan superior to the WGA’s, two separate pension plans, a 401(k), and workplace protections are getting screwed, then yes, I guess 839 screws it members. (4) Actually, the WGA wasn’t there first. As Steve Hulett relates below, 839 had made two serious prior runs at Nick long before the WGA showed any interest. I suppose if one wants to assume that the first union to get involved in organizing a company has a permanent exclusive right to that company, then the WGA should have never come around. <<

Then Nickelodeon's brass decided--out of thin fucking air-- that myself and two other writers had been "the ringleaders" of this organizing effort, so they called around to Warner Bros. Animation, the Cartoon Network, Disney Animation, and Fox Kids, effectively blacklisting the three of us out of animation permanently.

>> Maybe this happened, maybe it didn’t. I’d love to know how Micah is so certain. I will say that I’ve heard of people being “blacklisted” before, by very angry producers, and those people ended up getting rehired not so long afterwards when tempers cooled. Producer memories tend to be short, and new producers come in, and so on. Of course, when Micah keeps propagating the “fact” that he’s on a blacklist at CN, Disney, and Fox, I wonder if he isn’t perpetuating his own status? <<

And why did Nickelodeon do this? Why were they so eager to decimate their own 2002 schedule, fire 24 writers, break multiple federal labor laws, sign a union deal, and to even bring back the fucking blacklist? They did all of that to prevent us from getting the same whopping $5 residual that the actors & composers of our shows get.

For five lousy fucking bucks, they destroyed three people's careers and put 250 artists out of work and fucked up their own channel for a year.

Ahh, but my episodes run about 400 times a year worldwide, though, so obviously Sumner Redstone (Salary in 2001: $65 million dollars) and Tom Freston (2001 salary: $55 million) were right to do what they did... myself and those other 23 writers might have broken the bank, what with each of us going to cost them another TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS each! OH NO! That... that's... FORTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!A YEAR!

So don't come crying to those of us who have EXPERIENCED what the AMPTP plans for all of the rest of you, that people who are deciding to stand up to bully-boy tactics like that are the crazy bunch of "horads" lustily marching "through" the streets searching for blood. The AMPTP are the barbarians sacking Rome in this scenario.


>>So here’s the reason this was ever brought up – apparently Micah and Micah alone understands what the AMPTP is really doing in the current WGA-AMPTP negotiations. That it’s not a negotiation at all, but an attempt to eliminate the WGA from the earth. <<

The AMPTP and their glittering-eyed weasel lawyers are a bunch of lying,

>> Is it too snarky of me to ask aloud if Micah is particularly qualified to comment on the patterns of serial liars? All right, all right, I withdraw the question. <<

blacklisting, law-breaking scumbags, and the fact that they haven't budged off of ANY of their proposals in the last three months proves that what they have in store for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU is exactly what they did to us at Nickelodeon,

>> Now the specifics of the AMPTP secret plan – the studios want to fire every single writer, cancel all their series and movies, lay off all production staff. Hmmm, interesting plan. <<

and what they can do any day of the week in daytime animation. Or reality.

Strike or no strike. That's their plan: to winnow down your membership, to snip away at your MBA, to chew away at your health & pension plans until there's just nothing left of the WGA.


>> Right, we got it Micah. Destroy all writers. Destroy the WGA. That’s the AMPTP’s goal. Or is that the goal of your latest video game? Kidding, just kidding, I’m sure it’s a great video game. <<

Why? Because they've had a good strong drink of how much money they make off of animation when they don't have to cut the creators in for any of the cash, and now they want to extend that free ride to all of live action as well.

>> Oh, yeah, now I get it. After over a century of making movies and how many decades of TV, the producers have just now figured out, thanks to their experience at Nick, that if they eliminate their creatives they’ll have all this cash to themselves. Yes, they’re going to eliminate all residuals from the WGA, and the DGA, and SAG, and the IATSE. And not pay them. And fire them. And keep all the good, drinkable cash. Mmmmm, yummy, drinkable cash. <<

THAT is why they have pushed for this strike at every step, with their insulting press releases, with their refusals to negotiate, etc.--because they're HOPING we go on strike, and that enough cowards and Quislings come crawling out of the woodwork after six weeks that they can force us to accept the same deal that Reality TV show writers have.

>> Wait, reality TV has writers? I thought that was all ad lib? <<

If you doubt me, go read their contract proposals again... there's not ONE of them which isn't an insult and a deal-breaking non-starter.
So can we PLEASE stop hearing about how it's the current WGA management which is the fucking problem here? Because, frankly, that canard is getting a little stale.


>> And we all hate stale canards as much as we hate stale donuts. Mmmm, yummy donuts.

Okay, no more bad jokes. I do think Micah (and about a million other people) are right that the AMPTP was practically daring Verrone to take the WGA out on strike. But not because they want to destroy and eliminate the WGA or residuals. They just think they can get a better deal with the DGA than the WGA,that the WGA will have to knuckle under, and that after this the WGA won’t be in a striking mood for a long time. <<

Or perhaps you prefer presidents like the President of the WGA back in 2001 who just threw up her hands when we were fired and blacklisted out of our careers and said, and I quote, "oh well, it was a good try"

>> As you’ll hear me say again, but it amazes me that Micah’s anger is aimed at TAG 839, who had nothing to do with his firing and supposed blacklisting, and yet he has nothing for vereration for the WGA, which clearly let him down at Nick. Odd.

Now here’s Steve Hulett’s response to Micah’s letter from when it was reposted for the second time on The Artful Writer:

I’ve gone through this a while back on another thread here, but I’ll reiterate:

When the WGA was attempting to organize Nickelodeon, Jerry Daly (then the WGA organizer) contacted The Animation Guild about working to organize designers and background artists while the Writers Guild covered board artists and writers.

For months we worked in tandem — with minimal success or impact. Artists and writers — the “trouble makers” — were being steadily laid off.

Sometime after the vote that the WGA organized in front of Nick, I visited Jerry Daly’s office at the WGA. He said to me: “The guild’s getting pretty much nowhere with this. We’re going to walk away.”

Eight months after that conversation (with nothing still happening at Nick) the Animation Guild organized a small animation company owned and operated by Fred Seibert (former head of Hanna-Barbera). After we had signed a collective bargaining agreement, Seibert moved his studio from its Ventura Boulevard location to Nickelodeon.

That led to me walking through Nick … which led to me collecting rep cards … and ultimately a contract.

Jerry Daly was angry that I never gave him a “heads up.” I reminded Jerry that he had told me eight months before that the WGA was “walking away” from the organizing drive; he was unmollified.

I won’t claim to be a simon-pure idealist in all this. I’m not. What I am is a former animation writer who now works as a union rep and is paid to, among other things, organize the unorganized. Which I do.


Micah’s response:

re: Steve Hulett, organizer for IATSE Local 839, aka the Animator’s “Guild”, and post #123…

Steve Hulett & his anonymous comrades claims not withstanding, the Animation “Guild” did most definitely screw the writers who had signed WGA cards at Nickelodeon, simply by incorporating all those same writers who had not yet been fired for signing WGA cards (and all new writers) into their bargaining unit. They COULD have exempted us, as they initially promised the WGA they would when we initially agreed to work together to organize Nickelodeon, but they chose instead to offer their services to Nickelodeon as a means to lock out the WGA permanently, and thus to get their Local most-favored-union status.


>>This is classic Micah. First he claims that the issue is that the WGA was “shut out” of Nick by local 839, and now the claim shifts to 839 not excluding writers from the 839 contract unit after the WGA dropped their organizing effort. The problem with this new complaint is that TAG COULDN’T exclude the writers and board artists, because they, too, had signed 839 rep cards, and by federal labor law were included in the bargaining unit. <<

Oh, and it wasn’t 8 freaking months later, either… it was 3 weeks, maximum, before the long knives came out and Steve Hulett was walking around the building arm-in-arm with the same Nickelodeon Executive who had just blacklisted us, handing out IATSE Local 839 signature cards.

>>More classic Micah. This is typical strategy — when the first lie is refuted, simply up the ante with a bigger, more specific lie. The great thing about this bit of dishonesty is that it’s so specific that it’s easy to refute. So it was a mere three weeks, maximum, before Steve Hulett was inside Nick collecting rep cards, eh? Here are some dates, most of which are matters of public record, and easy to find with a few internet searches:

The WGA got involved at Nick in early 2001. They eventually collected Rep Cards from most of the writers and board artists at Nick.

The WGA organized a picket of Nick on 8/30/01. Steve Hulett, myself, and several members of the Local 839 Executive Board joined that picket, in support of the WGA.

The WGA held an unofficial vote on 10/3/01 to confirm that the rep cards were legit. Assemblyman Paul Koretz oversaw the vote, which the WGA won 19-2. However, the WGA chose NOT to go to the NLRB to have an official vote, which would have required Nick to actually negotiate. I’ve never been able to understand why they chose to not to go the official route. Instead, they publicized the vote and tried to shame Nick into negotiating. Nick, having no legal requirement to recognize the WGA as the bargaining agent for the writers/board artists, simply ignored the WGA.

Months later, in the spring of 2002, Jerry Daly, the WGA organizer, told Hulett that they were “walking away” from the effort at Nick.

In August 2002, TAG 839 organized Frederator, an independent studio that supplied content for Nick. This is now 10 months since the last WGA action at Nick, and TAG 839 still isn't inside Nick.

In Sept. 2002, Frederator relocated to inside the Nickelodeon building in Burbank, giving Steve Hulett his first access to Nick. It was after this that he began collecting Rep Cards for TAG 839.

In Oct. 2002, having collected an ovewhelming majority of cards from employees at Nick, including cards from board artists and writers, and after having won an NLRB sanctioned vote, TAG 839 and Nick signed a contract. That’s a little over a year since the “mock vote” with Assemblyman Koretz, and about 8-9 months since the WGA organizer informed TAG 839 that they were ending their efforts at Nick. Or, maybe it was really less than three weeks in that weird world where Micah is a heroic Army Ranger. <<

He did this, incidentally, while we had cases before the Local 839 protesting the en masse firings of people who had just coincidentally signed union cards toward a WGA election. It was Steve & IATSE Local 839 who made continuing our organizing attempts at Nickelodeon into a superfluous effort.

>>If in fact the WGA had filed suits on behalf of Micah and other fired employees, that would be a matter of public record. So of course Micah will undoubtedly provide us with documentation of those court filings. Otherwise, I will assume this is more bombast. In any event, if the WGA did have pending litigation regarding organizing Nick, it would have been easy to block TAG 839 from going forward in late 2002. In fact, the WGA had I think another 6 months after the October TAG-Nick agreement was signed to scuttle the deal (in other words, if they really were still involved in trying to organize Nick, they had until April 2003 to boot 839 out). But they never raised a peep. Perhaps because they really had quit their effort, and had left Micah and the other writers hanging out to dry. It’s amazing the WGA could treat Micah this way and still get his blind, rabid devotion. <<

Incidentally, what do you think is going to happen when you’re an artist in a building and you see people getting fired left and right for union activity, and then your boss comes walking into your office introduces a “friendly” union organizer and hands you a signature card?

>>So management at Nick was literally handing staff rep cards for TAG 839. I suppose we’ll have some actual witnesses to that come forward, right Micah? <<

It was smart of Steve to cease being an animation writer… I’m sure the money is much better putting the screws to other writers as an organizer for the AMPTP’s Pet Scab Union. I’m certainly glad that I stopped being an animation writer… my pay went up by 100% immediately (y’know, after my year of fucking unemployment, vainly trying to get work at any of the animation studios that Steve Hulett’s worker-friendly union covers). Too bad I loved writing animation, or I’d be happy about how things turned out.

>> Interestingly, on Micah’s website he says that he made more money in animation compared to comics and games. I guess “the truth” is a shifty thing.<<

As for the WGA’s fault in this story, yes, I think I’d pointed out that this entire incident happened BEFORE Patric Verrone ran for President, and that the WGA was of no help whatsoever when we were fired & blacklisted. Hopefully those days are over (except at Local 839 studios, where supporting Viacom’s blacklist is still Job #1).

>>So TAG 839 supports your blacklisting? Is TAG 839 also the reason you lost your book deal and got fried from DC? Look in the mirror sometime, Micah. The engineer of your own downfall is probably looking right back at you.<<

And lest anyone here ever wonder who’s telling the truth about this situation, dig around a little bit and find one of the writers from the Dreamworks Animation/NBC primetime animated show “Father of the Pride.” A show which was CLEARLY supposed to be covered by the WGA, where the writers were hired and told it would be a WGA show, and where they showed up to their first day on the job and were told they HAD to join Steve’s IATSE Local 839. A deal was eventually brokered between the 839 & the WGA whereby we would share the writers, but they would pay into their WGA Health & Pension plays… a deal which was later scuttled by the 839 AFTER the work had been completed.

>> Ah, yes, prove you're not lying by providing more falsehoods. See below for a well-documented dismantling of this new chain of bullshit. <<

Scabtastic, Company-funded, will-never-strike, Syndicate-run, racket union: the Animator’s Guild. Where the President of the Union once offshored work to non-union artists in Canada on a film he was directing WHILE serving as those artist’s union president!

>> After a bunch of wack-job slurs, we get yet another dishonest and grossly inaccurate claim, also dismantled below. <<

THIS is the future of the WGA under the AMPTP’s tender mercies. Vote with your feet (and your fists, if need be).

Propagandist |


>> At the time, Micah was calling himself “Propagandist” on The Artful Writer blog. Which seems to fit pretty well, in a Toyko Rose kind of way. Next is a response on The Artful Writer to the post above (Micah’s stuff is in quotes):<<

More baloney from Micah:

“And lest anyone here ever wonder who’s telling the truth about this situation, dig around a little bit and find one of the writers from the Dreamworks Animation/NBC primetime animated show ?Father of the Pride.? A show which was CLEARLY supposed to be covered by the WGA, where the writers were hired and told it would be a WGA show,”

DreamWorks Animation, both TV and feature, had a contract with TAG 839 from DreamWorks’ inception. There was never ANY possibility that “Father of the Pride” could or would be done under the WGA. The jurisdiction of DreamWorks was, and is, 839. There apparently were some overeager writer’s agents who told their clients that “FOTP” would be WGA, but they were mistaken. Perhaps someone at DreamWorks suggested it, perhaps not (DreamWorks execs denied ever clouding the issue). Since 839 wasn’t involved in those writers getting hired, whoever suggested or let them believe that those were WGA jobs had nothing to do with the Animation Guild.

“A deal was eventually brokered between the 839 & the WGA whereby we would share the writers,”

No, despite John McLean banging on tables and pronouncing that the show would “absolutely be done under a WGA contract,” the jurisdiction was 100% TAG 839. There was NO shared jurisdiction.

“but they would pay into their WGA Health & Pension plans, a deal which was later scuttled by the 839 AFTER the work had been completed.”

Again, completely false. Local 839, as a favor to DreamWorks and in an attempt to keep everyone happy, tried to arrange a situation where pension and health contributions would flow to the WGA plan instead of the 839 plan, even though the employment was under 839. Despite the best efforts of 839, it was the WGA pension and health plans that initially couldn’t accommodate the arrangement.

“Scabtastic, Company-funded, will-never-strike, Syndicate-run, racket union: the Animator’s Guild.”

Scabtastic? Bullshit. Company funded? Nope, funded by members dues, just like the WGA. Never strike? Our last strikes were in 1979 and 1982. Strikes the WGA did not support in any way. Anyway, good to know I’m mob connected. I hadn’t realized it before.

“Where the President of the Union once offshored work to non-union artists in Canada on a film he was directing WHILE serving as those artist’s union president!”

So, tell me, do WGA writers refuse to write for shows that have any part of their production sent out of the country? Do they support other Hollywood unions with such a policy? Uh, no, they take the money and run.

Tom Sito, past 839 president, was offered the chance to co-direct a movie (Osmosis Jones) that was scheduled to have only part of its production done in Los Angeles under 839. Warner Bros. had already decided that a chunk of the movie would be done outside LA to save money. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have greenlit the film. After Tom accepted the directing job, he actually succeeded in getting a much bigger part of the movie done in Los Angeles under 839. And for this Micah wants to criticize him, instead of applauding him for busting his ass to get as many people in town employed as possible.

Anon |

Then Steve Hulett weighed in again on The Artful Writer, reiterating some of the above:

One more thing: the Animation Guild attempted to organize Nickelodeon in 1997 and 1998. We held multiple pickets in front of the studio, the largest of which was the night of the “Grand Opening” of the studio. The Burbank police forced us to picket across Olive Avenue, but there were hundreds of us there.

Like the WGA in 2001-2002, we failed to get a contract.

Tom Sito — former TAG President — is accused of overseeing the outsourcing of work on Warner Bros. animated feature “Osmosis Jones.” In fact, Tom was an employee on the picture (one of two animation directors) who successfully argued for more of the work to remain in L.A. So instead of 60% of the work getting outsourced as originally planned, 30% of the work went up to Canada.

Nevertheless, Tom was villified by some TAG members as being the instigator of outsourcing, when in fact he came to the production after the pipelines to Toronto had been set up.

Lastly, “Father of the Pride.” This series was set up at DreamWorks Animation, which has never had a contract with the WGA. DWA execs hired a lot of WGA comedy writers for “Pride’s” writing staff. Apparently it was never made clear to a number of agents what contract FOP’s writers would be working under. I was present at meetings with Katzenberg, an agent, an IA lawyer, and a WGA rep, and nobody at the table could pin down exactly what had been said to whom.

The writing staff, after being contacted by the WGA, threatened to walk out. Jeffrey Katzenberg brought IA lawyers together with WGA staff to broker a deal, and an aggrement to pay WGA equivalent residuals was hammered out. There was another wrinkle: Pension and Health contributions for the “Pride” writers could flow to WGA Health and Pension OR the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan at each writer’s option.

Jurisdiction remained, first to last, with The Animation Guild. WGAw had no standing because it had no contract. TAG has had a collective bargaining agreement with DWA since 1995.

All the above was brokered by the IATSE and the WGA, not TAG. The deal was not scuttled by the IA or TAG. (TAG had virtually nothing to do with it.) The WGA had difficulty getting its health and pension plan to approve the deal; ultimately it was approved.

TAG is not “my” union, guild, whatever. I’m an employee. As Mr. Young is an employee of the WGA.

But being a scabtankerous IA thug has its rewards. I take home $1540 each and every week.

steve hulett |


>> For once Micah backed off a bit: <<

Okay, Steve & anonymous Local 839 members, please allow me to apologize. I’m sorry for bringing the Father of the Pride situation up, because frankly, I was only a third party observer to those events, and I might have gotten bad information. I will say that two of the writers of the show told me that they felt they’d been hired under false pretenses by NBC and were told that it would be a WGA show (they’d asked in advance because they understood that Dreamworks was an 839 signatory), but that conversation is the end of my direct involvement with the situation, and I’m sorry I brought it up. For all I know, you’re 100% correct about that situation.

Similarly, I’m sorry I mentioned the Tom Sito situation (though I will point out that YOU were the one who brought his name into it). While what you say may well be true about how he fought to retain work here in the US, I will only say that it struck many of us on the outside as an unusual situation that the President of your Guild was offshoring jobs on his production, taking work away from the members he was supposed to be representing.


>>Even here, Micah can’t resist misrepresenting. If Tom Sito hadn’t taken that co-directing job, someone else would have. He didn’t offshore anything, and he succeeded in getting MORE work for members he represented. Even in apologizing, Micah can’t resist taking a few more shots. <<

You can deny that ”the WGA” has ever fought offshoring, and say that we “take the money and run,” but I think I can confidently state that no sitting president of our Guild has ever hired foreign non-Guild writers to write on a Guild-covered show while serving as President of our Guild. What else could Tom Sito have done? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. Resign as President of his Union, perhaps? It’s what I would have done, rather than be seen to be getting paid by Warner Bros. to offshore my rank and file’s jobs, but that’s ME.

>>Yeah, that’s just you, Micah. Man of the highest ethical nature, man of principle, paragon of truth and justice. It amazes me you can write things like this without the slightest trace of irony.<<

I don’t know the particulars of his situation and I’ve never met the man, so I shouldn’t have brought it up. I’m sorry.

Now, all of that said, I stand by my impressions of the Nickelodeon organizing effort 100%.


>>Yep, 100%. Even though what he'd written has been shown to be a pack of BS, he stands by it. A true man of principle. Kinda like an Army Ranger.<<

We signed cards, we got fired, you came in with the approval of management and locked us out, even though you had specifically agreed to exempt the writers from your coverage since we’d taken the first steps in organizing that non-covered-by-anyone workplace.

>> The “exempted” part has already been dealt with, but the “you locked us out” stuff is weird. By the time TAG 839 came in, you’d been fired for what, a year? What did TAG lock you out of? Did the union keep you from being rehired? Or is the royal “us” mean that you and the WGA are one in the same? Are you even a member of the WGA? If you are, do you represent the WGA? Maybe you do, the way you represented Army Rangers who were against the war? <<

Perhaps you sense animosity in my words, but if so it’s because myself and another writer were the ones who DEMANDED that the WGA organize Nickelodeon in conjunction with the Local 839. We had heard from our fellow WGA animation writers that the 839 was not to be trusted, that they were a pack of snakes, etc, but we told Gerry Daly & the organizing department that if they didn’t coordinate with you, we would not aid in the organizing effort — because we felt that it would be UNFAIR to the artists if the WGA was covering the writers, without a corresponding union to cover the people working on our shows.

>> I understand your animosity, but I think it’s misplaced. It was the WGA that let you down. It wasn’t TAG that fired you or wouldn’t rehire you or had anything whatsoever to do with the WGA effort failing. <<

That was a hard fight, Steve, to get the WGA people to ignore whatever stupid history of animosity had been brewing between the two unions for decades and concentrate instead on organizing the biggest non-union employer in town… it was a hard fight, but one I considered important.

>> Oh, so it was you who overcame the two decades of animosity between the WGA and 839? Huh. Well, my friend, I have to tell you that neither Steve Hulett nor I nor anyone else on the TAG exucutive board have ever had any animosity towards the WGA (though the WGA’s behavior in the DreamWorks case was pretty sleazy).

It's also kind of funny that earlier Micah said the Nick blacklisted him "out of thin air," as if he had nothing to do with being a ringleader, and here he's giving himself sole credit for being the ringleader. Curious.<<

So yeah, when I was illegally fired, then blacklisted at all the studios your “Guild” reps, and then heard that the 839 rep was walking around arm-in-arm with the president of the studio handing out cards (the exact description I heard from about 30 people that day, all of whom called my house, furious and feeling intimidated by your visit), yeah, I felt betrayed by the Local 839 Animators Guild.

>> Again, why is it that 839 “betrayed” you? Nick fired you, then (according to you) blacklisted you, and the WGA left you hanging out to dry instead of filing suit on your behalf. But the bad guy in this is TAG for getting a union contract a year later. I don’t get it, but then there’s a lot about the way your mind works that I don’t get. <<

Further, I note that in all of your “corrections” about timelines, and Tom Sito’s maligned honor, and the Father of the Pride health & pension plan, you’ve neglected to contradict my main points:

(1) that animation doesn’t pay residuals to its writers because they’re mostly covered by The Animators Guild, which doesn’t consider them something worth fighting for;


>> That actually wasn’t one of your points, but I’ll address it. TAG would love to get residuals for many of it’s members, above and beyond the residuals that are collected for TAG members for their health and pension benefits. The issue isn’t that TAG doesn’t think they’re worth fighting for, it’s that TAG has never had the leverage to get individual residuals. Much like your much revered Patric Verrone wasn’t able to get residuals as part of his WGA contract for “Class of 3000.” Maybe now you’ll tell me that Patric and the WGA don’t think residuals are worth fighting for. <<

(2) IATSE Local 839 has been brought in more than once specifically to lock out the Writer’s Guild, indeed, that it has sold itself to non-union studios with exactly this argument;

>> That also wasn’t one of your points. This one's totally out of left field. How exactly does TAG “sell itself” with this argument? And since this has happened many times, what are some examples? Or maybe you’re unaware that Local 839 has been covering animation writers for about 60 years, that this isn’t some new thing just to fuck with the WGA?<<

(3) That the same AMPTP producers who own the animation companies which have used this tactic to lock out the WGA from covering animation are using other IATSE locals to lock out the WGA from covering Reality show writers;

>> Actually, the IA doesn’t cover any reality writers. None. They cover editors and other production staff, but not writers. The WGA’s massive failure in reality TV has nothing to do with the IA. But keep trying. Maybe the IATSE is really behind the Iraq invasion, too. <<

(4) That Local 839 told the WGA that they would carve out an exemption for writers from Local 839 coverage at Nickelodeon in return for helping you organize the studio, a promise which you broke;

>> Uh, no, as I wrote above, when TAG 839 and the WGA were working together, 839 was leaving the writers and board artists alone. When the WGA bailed, and writers and board artists signed 839 rep cards a year later, TAG did what it was required to do, and represented them. <<

(5) That the “ringleaders” (not really, but so named by Nickelodeon) of the Nicktoons organizing effort were blacklisted at all the same studios where YOUR union is in force, yet you’ve never lifted a finger to help any of us; and…

>> Dude, frankly, these rants are the first claims of blacklisting I’ve ever heard in this case. Did you go to Steve Hulett, the business agent, or to an 839 membership meeting, and raise the issue? Did you contact someone on the 839 executive board and try to enlist their help? Seriously, what evidence do you have of being blacklisted, and what have you tried to do about it except write inaccurate internet screeds? You supposedly got blacklisted for working with the WGA. Why aren't you running around Writer Action ranting about how the WGA didn't do shit for you?<<

(6) That this is the future for all WGA writers in the vision of the AMPTP: that they’ll find a way to push out the “problematic” and “expensive” Writers Guild, and replace it with other, cheaper, more malleable unions, such as those IATSE provides. Y’know… until there is no more WGA, and then it’s your turn.

>> Hmm, I’m not that big a reader of Hollywood history, but even I can probably find dozens of examples of “problematic” and “expensive” writers who have continued to work for AMPTP companies under the WGA contract. This is really some conspiracy-theory nonsense you’re flinging.

Look, if the AMPTP’s real goal, as you claim, is not to get the contract they want, but is to completely destroy the WGA once and for all, then the WGA leadership needs to change their strategy really fast. I mean, you’re not saying “the AMPTP wants to give the WGA a shitty new media deal,” you’re saying that the AMPTP wants the WGA to go the way of the dodo. I think you’re (fortunately) pretty much alone in that belief. <<

Now, the rest of us are here to talk about WGA business, so if you need to respond, feel free to write me at leperous@mac.com -Micah

Propagandist |


>> Here's my Artful Writer response, which reiterates some of the points made above for this site: <<

Micah, I appreciate your apology about some of the misinformation you put out.

Regarding Tom Sito co-directing animation on “Osmosis Jones,” a production which had some work outsourced, while president of 839: I want to go into this because Tom is a friend of mine, and it really burns me up to hear this crap still thrown around the way you have.

First, some background. Outsourcing started in animation in the ’60’s, though it was pretty minimal then. It ramped up in the ’70’s. Yeah, waaaaaay before there was a name for it, way before anyone else in Hollywood had heard of it. By 1979, Local 839 drew a line in the sand and insisted on a no-outsourcing clause in their CBA. The studios refused, and a nasty strike ensued. Yep, the “scabtastic” union hit the bricks.

Local 839 won. Three years later, the studios refused to again include the no-outsourcing clause in the CBA. Another strike ensued. A strike, by the way, that no other union or guild supported. After several months out, and after seeing the producers happily outsourcing anyway, the strike crumbled, and the producers won.

Since that time, virtually every animated TV show has been heavily outsourced. What most people don’t realize is that there was also outsourcing on virtually every traditionally-animated feature, including the Disney, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. films. “Osmosis Jones” was Warner Bros.’ third animated feature. The first two failed badly. Warners greenlit “Osmosis” only if it could be done cheaply, with more outsourcing than usual. Otherwise, there would have been NO local jobs on that production, because there would have been no production.

Tom Sito accepted the job of co-director of animation with those conditions. Once in the position, he managed to keep a substantially larger portion of those jobs in town. You write as if it were Tom’s decision to outsource, that he had control of all those jobs. That decision was already made, and Tom did his best to undo it.

Should he have resigned as union president for that? For keeping jobs in town? If the answer is yes, then NO member of 839 could take a leadership role in 839 and also have any kind of supervisory position in the field. Because virtually every such job, in TV or feature, involved some outsourcing.

Now, let’s turn the lens around. Let’s get this back to the WGA. The WGA has long trumpeted that it stands for residuals for animation writers. That’s what they’ve insisted they could provide, including in daytime cable TV. So, here’s a “hypothetical” question for you: if the president of the WGA was offered an animation writing job, covered by the WGA, but one which did NOT involve residuals, should he take it? Wouldn’t that be a betrayal of what the WGA claims it stands for? Wouldn’t it undermine the rights of all animation writers? Wouldn’t it set an obvious and damaging precedent? Wouldn’t you feel betrayed? Shouldn’t the president of the WGA resign first if he were going to do such a terrible thing?

So, next time you’re talking to the current WGA president, ask him about the WGA deal he got on “Class of 3000.” Ask him about the claim that the WGA really can get residuals for animation writers. You might be surprised by the answers.


And that is pretty much it. The Micah shit continues to be reprinted and believed, and I've wasted an unbelievable amount of time on this crap. In summary, Nick management behaved very badly (and perhaps even illegally) to the WGA organizing effort back in 2001. TAG 839 had nothing to do with any of that. And none of it really has much to do with the AMPTP-WGA negotiations now.

Alex Weitzman said...

Ask and ye shall receive. Thank you, Kevin. This was a fascinating read.

This sounds mostly like one guy's bitchings about being fired, strung out into a zany conspiracy theory. I particularly like the notion that he's being blacklisted due to him not finding animation work, since it certainly couldn't be his sparkling personality.

Unless anyone else has more pertinent refutation of this breakdown of the Micah Wright self-generated scandal (which, I can't deny, would also be rather interesting to see), I'm eager to get back to rooting for the WGA in its current battle.

Micah Wright said...

Well, first off, if Steve is going to link to a ranger apology, then I'd like him to link to MY apology, not one from some random site which isn't even complete. Here's MY real apology: http://www.micahwright.com/ranger.htm


Secondly, I came clean & apologized for that shit almost 4 years ago, so... yawn. Am I perfect? Nope. Did I make up a military background in order to sell a military-themed comic book? Yes. Did I apologize online for this? Yes. Does that mean I'm a liar about everything I say? No. Does it mean that I -might- be lying now? Sure... but so could a lot of other people. Caveat Emptor.

I'm not really sure WHY this subject is coming back up, except that Kevin Koch is eager to beat up on me again in public, having already done so on The Artful Writer. Steve Hulett & I settled our fight offline, so why Kevin's here talking shit is beyond my understanding.

I will, however, point out that Steve Hulett completely copped to the charge of using the scary, scary WGA and their super-high salaries and residuals as a scare tactic to convince non-signatory companies to sign with the IATSE Local 839. The word he used was "prophylactic" -- meaning that using the condom that is the Local 839, one's studio can avoid getting pregnant with real-world pay and salaries. Is it a good strategy? Evidently it is... it sure worked at Nickelodeon.

So, as to the old business:

Was I the "ringleader" at Nickelodeon? No. Why was I pegged as the "ringleader?" Because when Nickelodeon challenged our signed union cards in a NLRB hearing (claiming we had somehow forced writers to sign), I said that I'd testify that there was no coercion. Did I vocally advise that we should bring Local 839 into the process. Yes. Did I hear from other, older animation writers that this was a BAD idea? Yup. I considered it to be a bad idea to do it without cooperation between the two unions, however, and I pushed for the WGA organizers to work in conjunction with the 839. I'd heard the horror stories about how the 839 was intransigent and the enemies of all writers, but I stupidly thought that if we worked together, we wouldn't be put in the position of fucking one another. Did I live to regret bringing in the Local 839? Yes. Why? Because once Nickelodeon had shut down almost every show in the building and laid off every writer who had potentially signed a card (Butch Hartman's show being the notable exclusion), they called in the Local 839 and locked us out forever. That fact is nigh irrefutable. The Local 839's position on this seems to be that we abandoned our prior claim to cover writers at Nickelodeon. This strange and sudden reversal on the part of the WGA seemingly based on a phone call between them & Gerry Daly in which Gerry claimed that the WGA was giving up on Nickelodeon forever -- a phone call that Gerry denies making.

As to what happened to those of us who were fingered as the "ringleaders" of this union action, well, I sure didn't see the Local 839 getting off their duff to help those of us who were suddenly Blacklisted out of Animation. Ad hominem attacks from the President of the Local 839 aside, I did indeed have a pilot at Nickelodeon, Constant Payne, and we were well into production on 4 episodes of the show when suddenly all of my belongings were in cardboard boxes, I was escorted to the front door, and told never to re-enter the building. Over the course of the next few weeks, as I pounded the pavement looking for work, it seemed everyone had heard some distorted version of events, oddly, much of it including wildly untrue details. The last straw was when the composer for Constant Payne told me of a meeting he'd had with the President of Universal Animation and she advised him to take Constant Payne off of his resume because "the word was out" about me, and that I'd "never work in animation again." When I spoke to my manager about this, she told me she'd get to the bottom of it. Then two weeks later, she dropped me as a client. Why? Because she had other clients at Nickelodeon, and she was getting pressure to drop me or else the network would retaliate against those people. I had one animation show-runner actually offer me a job on his show, only to actually call and rescind that job offer under pressure from "the execs."

This is the way a Blacklist works -- it makes an example out of inconvenient people in order to make other employees afraid to speak out or ask for more. In my case, it worked; after a year of not working in American animation, I bailed and moved into comics & videogames.

I never saw anyone at IATSE Local 839 help me or the other 2 writer/storyboarders caught in this situation. One of them became my writing partner, the other got hired 3 years later after changing to using a different name.

Would I still be blacklisted today, seven yeas later, if I tried to get a job in animation? Who knows. Executives come and go... but almost all the same people are still in charge of those networks today as were 7 years ago. I know my writing partner (another "ringleader") is still personna non grata at Nickelodeon because when SpongeBob got severely behind two years ago, the producer floated Jay's name as a possible new hire to get the show back on schedule (Jay wrote and storyboarded 1/4 of the original 60 episodes), and the head of the studio told the producer to "never mention that name to me again" -- after 6 years! Pathetic.

And yes, after a year of not working, I made up a fake background and pitched a military-themed book to a comics company so I could pay my mortgage and not lose my house. I'm not proud of what I did, but it hardly rises to the level of rank treason or whatever these anonymous blowhards are posting on this blog.

Am I a liar? Oh, fuck yeah, caught and confessed. Am I lying about what happened to us at Nickelodeon? In Kevin Koch's wet dreams. Are my memories about exact dates and suchlike foggy from it being 7 years later? Maybe... but I have distinct memories of about 10 people calling me from Nickelodeon telling me that Steve Hulett was walking around Nickeldeon arm-in-arm with the same guy who made the calls around town blacklisting us, handing out 839 signature cards and telling them that it was "okay" to sign "this union card."

But if Kevin's fevered claims that Jay Lender & I aren't blacklisted forever from Nickelodeon aren't true, then let's perform an experiment... I hereby pledge to write an episode of any current Nicktoon for $1. I'll do 10 pitches, an outline, and two drafts for a whopping $1. Any Nickelodeon show runner who wants to save $3500 on their budget can come get some almost-free work from me. All they have to do is walk into Mark Taylor's office and ask permission to hire me.

Now, let's see Kevin Koch throw his weight as President of the Local 839 behind getting us even a single $1 freelance writing job at Nickeldeon. It won't happen, it can't happen. And once THAT is proven, then what is the President of the Local 839 aka "The Animation Guild" willing to do on behalf of two animation workers who have been illegally locked out of an Employer? My guess is, uh, nothing.

-Micah, leperous@mac.com
MicahWright.com

Steve said...

Micah;

Thanks for weighing in, sorry I grabbed the wrong apology, and I'm glad you cleared it up.

As I said - I'm trying to foster discussion on this here... and you were in the trenches. Once it got as sharply word it as it is, I wanted to let you know it was going on so you could weigh in as well.

See? I don't just spell for shit, I link poorly too.

- Steve

Marty said...

I have to say the one piece of new information to me in all of this is Steve Hulett's assertion that Jerry Daly told him "We're going to walk away." While I don't refute that this conversation took place (since I obviously wasn't there), I CAN tell you that Jerry Daly never mentioned it to the WGA Animation Writers Caucus steering committee, of which I was a member at the time. I do know that we were all under the impression that the Nickelodeon organization attempt would be the beginning of more cooperative efforts between the WGA and 839, hence his surprise/disappointment that he was not given the "heads up" when 839 went back in.

Alex Weitzman said...

[leans in]

This is becoming rather "he said, she said". But I'm definitely intrigued.

By the way, Micah, my apologies for some of my snarkier comments in my previous post. It's easy to be a self-styled comedian when you don't think the target is reading. I still find some of your conclusions (I assume you were quoted accurately before) questionable and your tone in those posts difficult to accept, but I don't have to insult you to say that.

I don't suppose there are links to evidence from either Kevin or Micah that aren't just anecdotal? When both sides are calling the others liars, it makes you long for a third- party perspective.

writer of wrongs said...

Thanks Kevin and Micah for explaining this all. Seriously. It's a lot to digest and even after reading it the story still isn't all that clear. Like Alex wrote -- it's a "he said she said." Both arguments are forceful, passionate, and filled with wild exagerations (yes Kevin you included). What I personally take away from this this conversation (and Kevin, feel free to jump all over this comment, I know you will)is this-- Kevin, it is cleat that you don't respect writers or the work that writers do. Now if Micah's the only writer you've ever known then this would explain your feelings. But Kevin, isn't it possible that one of the reasons writers do not feel welcome at 839 and they long for the greener pastures of the WGA is because of your attitudes?

Kevin Koch said...

so why Kevin's here talking shit is beyond my understanding.

I'm here because Steve M. asked me to be. I'm here because even though massive parts of your account of what happened at Nick have been proven false, you've never gone back to Writer Action and corrected your account. I'm here because friends of yours, like Patrick Meighan of Culver City, continue to send your false account of TAG 839's involvement in the Nick-WGA organizing far and wide, while you do nothing to correct them. I'm here because, since I became president of TAG 839 in 2001, and since I was one of the people meeting with Jerry Daly (WGA organizer) and would have been one of the people involved in any secret back-room deal with Nick that never happened, you've been lying about me.

Is that clear enough? You spewed this libelous shit all over the internet. Your history, unknown to me initially, is very much relevant, as is mine. You have a well-documented history of serial lying and fraud. I don't. If you were smart, you'd spend the rest of your life being very careful about what you claim, since you long ago lost the right to have everyone give you the benefit of the doubt.

When I first started refuting your bullshit, I had no idea who you were. I heard a few people say, "oh, you can't believe that guy, he's a liar," but I assumed they just didn't agree with you. I was still laboring under the impression that you were just a writer who'd been screwed and was emotionally lashing out at an organization you had no part of, and which had no part in screwing you. You wouldn't have been the first writer to take nasty, undeserved shots at TAG 839, so I didn't look into who you were. Then I discovered your "Ranger" life, and also the way you "apologized" for it. And I saw it sure as hell was relevant and of a piece with what you were doing now.

By the way, nifty of you to have Steve M. change the link to your "real" apology. How about this link that speaks to your original apology -- you know, the one you tried to backdate to show you were apologizing on your own, and not because the Washington Post was about to out you. The one were you referred to the death of Pat Tillman, which happened a full week AFTER the "date" of you heartfelt apology. You really take the cake.

Now are we really, really clear on why this all got brought up? Is it in your realm of understanding now? If not, I don't care.

Because once Nickelodeon had shut down almost every show in the building and laid off every writer who had potentially signed a card (Butch Hartman's show being the notable exclusion), they called in the Local 839 and locked us out forever. That fact is nigh irrefutable.

No, Micah Wright, it's a lie. Repeating a lie again and again doesn't make it any less a lie. I know it's the strategy of pathological liars, but it's still a lie. Nick didn't call 839 in. The WGA failed in their effort, and hung you out to dry, and walked away. Privately, they told us from the start that they didn't think they could succeed. Yep, I hate to make those organizers sound lame, 'cause they seemed like good guys, but they never really thought they were going to succeed. They went through the motions. 839 had nothing to do with that, either. Then, a year later, 839 organized Nick.

You seem to have some need to put yourself at the center of this: YOU selflessly insisted on 839 being involved, and because of YOUR action, 839 betrayed the WGA and screwed up the deal, and because of 839 you're blacklisted and forced, against your will, to create a fictional personality just to keep your family fed. It's like a Greek tragedy. Bwahahaha. Tragic, and demonstrably false, silly, ridiculous. Things would have gone down EXACTLY the same way at Nick if you had never said a word to Jerry Daly and if the WGA organizers had never said a word to Steve and me. Exactly. All we did was tell them we were staying out of the way (which would have happened anyway), we showed some public support (which frankly didn't make any difference), and we watched and shook our heads when the WGA walked away. Nine months later, when Frederator was organized and later moved into the Nick building, things changed. But your telling Jerry Daly to work with 839 had zero effect on anything. Zero, zip, zilch, nada, none. But hey, keep repeating the same lies -- maybe one day you'll get an Army Ranger pension, too.

Over the course of the next few weeks, as I pounded the pavement looking for work, it seemed everyone had heard some distorted version of events, oddly, much of it including wildly untrue details.

Wow, gee, where might someone have gotten distorted, odd, wildly untrue versions of those events? Oh, the outrage! How that must have rankled you, Micah, since you have so little experience with wild, odd distortions and untruths. Like I said before, sometime you need to have a long look in the mirror.

Again, this last week is the first I've ever heard of your supposed blacklist. So I'm listening. What would you suggest Steve Hulett or 839 do? How does a union fight a blacklisting? How did the WGA fight it for you? Seriously, if you know of something Steve or I or the Guild could do, we'll consider it. But frankly, I think your statement that "839 has never done anything about my blacklisting" is just rhetoric. It's an easy, emotionally satisfying accusation to make, but how does any union make a particular studio head stop considering a particular potential employee personna non grata? Should the exec board pass a resolution? Should Steve go into Nick and start yelling. Should we put it up for a strike vote?

Seriously, you've obviously thought about this, give me a clue as to what you've been silently expecting these last six years. Because, as someone who is currently personna non grata at a couple of studios, thanks to being a union leader, I'd love to know what the union can do about it.

Are my memories about exact dates and suchlike foggy from it being 7 years later? Maybe...

I just love how, even when you're proven to be completely full of shit, you still prevaricate and hedge. There's no "maybe," Micah. You're stating as fact things that are factually incorrect. You were caught in more lies. You're busted. End of story. Yawn.

But if Kevin's fevered claims that Jay Lender & I aren't blacklisted forever from Nickelodeon aren't true

Uh, dude, listen, I never said it wasn't true. I said "supposed." You see, Micah, when I can't know something for a fact, when I'm repeating something that may or may not be true, then I don't pretend that it is a certainty. You might be blacklisted. You might not. I don't know. There's frankly no way to prove it, in your case or in mine. Did you leave some people at Nick with a desire to never hire you again? That seems likely. But I'm not going to confirm something like an actual blacklist that I have no direct or indirect knowledge of. Does that make sense to you? Probably not.

And Marty, I know for a fact that there were some things said, and not said, to the WGA leadership about the Nick organizing effort, so I'm not surprised to hear that the Animation Writer's Caucus wasn't given the straight story. Which reminds me of what's still missing in this debate. I've seen it repeated again and again something along the lines of "the WGA was still involved in lawsuits and legal efforts regarding Nick, when 839 swept in and made those efforts moot." Now, aside from the legal fact that said WGA efforts would have prevented 839 from sweeping in, I still, after repeated requests, have yet to see even the slightest wiff of evidence that ANY of these legal or NRLB efforts by the WGA were ongoing. Micah sure as hell has never backed up his claim that the WGA had filed legal challenges to his firing. No one at the WGA has ever provided any evidence. No one at the WGA raised a stink, or even said a word, when it was announced in late 2002 that 839 had rep cards from Nick and was proceeding with an NLRB election. There was a long six-month window even after the Nick-839 contract was signed in Oct. 2002 for the WGA to step in and show that they were in fact still involved in organizing the place, and that their effort preempted 839's. They didn't. Which leads me to believe that a lot of people, including the Animation Writers Caucus, were misled about what the WGA was really doing.

Oh, yeah, and Hulett DID give Daly a "heads up" when 839 went back in in late 2002. But then, I'm also not surprised you were told otherwise on this count, either.

Kevin Koch said...

Gawd, jesus in heaven, this never ends, does it? So it's just "he said, she said"? Do a simple internet search on the dates of the WGA efforts at Nick. They were well publicized. Likewise, you can look up pretty easily the dates of the Frederator organizing and subsequent Nick organizing by 839. I've provided a specific time-line to disprove the central claim of Micah's that 839 "swept in and scuttled the WGA organizing effort within three weeks of the mock vote." Most of what I've documented is public record. No, I can't provide proof of a negative (that no secret collusive meetings took place between 839 and Nick), and I can't provide proof of private conversations between union organizers, but this ain't no "he said, she said." If Micah's story held any water, it would be soooo easy to prove.

And Writer of Wrongs, why not skip making vague attacks and actually document some of the many wild exaggeration of mine? Hell, just document two wild exaggerations. Just don't expect me to hold my breath while I wait for you.

And your childish internet troll tactic of trying to taint me by assuring everyone that I obviously don't respect writers -- get a life. If you happen to be a writer (which I doubt, because you don't seem to be smart enough), don't think it's evidence I don't respect writers. I don't respect you, my sackless internet troll friend. You could be the King of Siam for all I care. I respect people who treat me respectfully. I respect people who respect themselves enough to be truthful and thoughtful. I certainly respect Steve Marmel, who's willing to but his name next to his opinions. But you, no, not so much.

Marty said...

Um, Kevin, not to split hairs here, but in his earlier response to Micah's post (which you reprinted) Steve said that "Jerry Daly was angry that I never gave him a heads up". And now you're saying "Steve DID give Jerry a 'heads up' when 839 went back in 2002". Now I'm not discounting the possibility that Jerry was less than forthright with the AWC steering committee. I only know what I was told. But it seems like 839 needs to get its stories straight as well.

Kevin Koch said...

Yep, you're right, I misspoke about that. I recalled that Jerry Daly expressed his displeasure to Steve when Steve gave him a "heads up" call, but you're right, Jerry and Steve spoke a little later.

writer of wrongs said...

Kevin. I apologize. I baited you with my last incendiary comments... And boy did you fall for it.

"Sackless internet troll friend." Nice. I'm gonna have that framed and hung next to my two Emmys.

Anonymous said...

Nice...did you see how he did that? Not only did he use a 2 dollar word, but he was able to act as if he was being noble and make it sound as if he was just testing Kevin and he was also able to slip in the fact that he had 2 emmys. Very nice....

Anonymous said...

He impressed me...if only I knew who to be impressed with....

Anonymous said...

Guys! I think it's Megan Mulally!

Kevin Koch said...

Apology accepted. I'll put that next to my Oscars. ;)

Anonymous said...

"Guys! I think it's Megan Mulally!"

Ohhh...so 'Emmys' is a euphemism.

But what does Kevin mean by his two 'oscars'?

Kevin Koch said...

What do you mean, only two?

And doesn't the fact that I worked on Oscar-winning films prove my points?

Or is this crowd that humor-challenged? ;)

got the joke said...

psst...Kevin...I think he was implying that "Oscar" might have been an euphemism for soemthing else

Kevin Koch said...

psst, I think it's safe to say that you might have missed my joke, too. But please, tell me what you think I missed in the "Megan Mullally" reference.

Anonymous said...

don't worry...I doubt anyone missed your joke. I'm assuming no one thought you had 2 Oscars anymore than anyone expects Micah to be truthful.

Fights over...time to lighten up

Kevin Koch said...

No, that wasn't the joke at all, but that's okay, since you aren't explaining your joke, either.

What's interesting to me is that this has devolved into a pretty nonsensical discussion (entertaining, but nonsensical), while the whole point of Steve putting Micah's post up has been left aside.

I think a few things are clear from what's gone on over the last 10-12 years.

1. After ignoring animation for many decades, the WGA is interested in animation. In much the same way, they're interested in Reality TV (and you can take that several ways, frankly).

2. Despite many efforts, the WGA has had zero success in getting contracts for daytime or cable TV animation that are significantly better than the 839 contracts that are the norm. They've either been unsuccessful in getting any contract, or they signed concessionary contracts that they just keep quiet about.

2. There are two well-documented cases where the WGA came in and promised writers that if they stood tall, the WGA would take care of them. In both cases, the writers got fired, the WGA didn't defend them, and their careers went into the toilet. First at Nick, and more recently at America's Next Top Model. In both cases the WGA tried to use as cover that the IATSE was the problem. In the first case, at Nick, the IA wasn't involved till a year later, and had nothing to do with the failure. In the second, the WGA backstabbed the Editors Guild, tried to sign up editors and below-the-line employees, and ended up blowing the whole thing. Despite WGA claims, the IA never signed any writers in that deal. The producers simply eliminated the story department. The IA had nothing to do with the ANTM failure, either. Read the LA Times opinion written by one of the screwed ANTM writers if you think they weren't screwed by the WGA. What he describes is uncannily like what happened at Nick. Frankly, if I were in reality TV or animation, I would think very carefully about signing a WGA rep card, based on what's happened in those cases, especially when there are no successful organizing campaigns to point to.

Now, none of that is to say that I don't think the WGA live-action contract is much better in many ways than the 839 animation contracts. Higher minimums and individual residuals are wonderful things. I want 'em, too (and as a character animator, I think I deserve them as much as anyone is SAG does). But I also know we in animation land, both TV and feature, have been sitting at the kid's table forever, and the powers that be are determined to keep things that way. We can get lost in what's "fair" and be chronically unhappy and even occasionally fuck ourselves if we go too far, or we can face reality and pick our battles and try to make meaningful headway a step at a time.

And please, don't take any of the above as anti-WGA. Unions do what unions think are in the best interest of their own broader agenda. I happen to think the WGA's current leadership is making a huge mess of things, and I think they were really stupid in the way they handled both the Nick and ANTM drives, but I think they generally do a great job of representing their live-action membership, and I admire the contract that they won 47 years ago. But I also think they couldn't get close to that contract in today's world, and that they might be powerless to resolve their own contract in the current negotiations. Which is why the quasi-collaboration with the DGA right now on new media ideas is heartening, since I think (as I've thought for the last year) that the DGA is the guild that's going to get this deal done.

Steve Hulett said...

I'm steering clear of all the incoming and outgoing mortar rounds here except for this:

Micah alluded to my use of the word "prophylactic" in a private e-mail to him. I did indeed use the word; here's the context (paraphrased, since I don't have the e-mail and ain't gonna retrieve it):

"... Warner Bros. labor relations refused to process a grievance of ours on Baby Blues, saying it was a Warner Bros. Animation show, but one they were doing sub-contract work on for another non-signator producer.

"Six months later, the WGA moved to organize the writers on Baby Blues, and Warners came to me saying: 'We gotta do a deal on this show. Get it under your jurisdiction to block the WGA ...'

"I said: "Nope. You told me six months ago it wasn't ours. So now when you want contract-block because the situation's changed, the answer is unh-unh. We're not gonna be your prophylactic when its convenient ..."

I don't put this up to show what a starry-eyed boy scout I am. (I'm not; I'm an IA organizer, among other things. Just as Daley was once a WGA organizer ...)

I just wanted to explain the context of the word "prophylactic" up above.

Steve Hulett said...

Cripes. Third paragraph should read: "...saying it wasN'T a Warner Bros. show ... doing sub-contract work on for A non-signator producer ..."

Non-proofed first drafts are not my strong suit.

Steve said...

This is why I spell your name wrong every time, by the way.

:)

On to the next fragfest.

Alex Weitzman said...

I'd add something of great significance and powerful insight (yeah, right), but I got lost in all the talk about helium-voiced sitcom stars.

One more thing I can blame "Will & Grace" for.

Anonymous said...

micah is an egotistical scumbag and a disgrace. end of story. i dont need to prove it because he has proven it himself.
his high opinion of himself is the only thing about him that is entertaining.

Anonymous said...

And it took this meandering thread to figure THAT out? Sure explains why it takes 15 writers and an oil tanker full of residuals to script a Jay Leno monologue no one under the age of seventy will watch. Ice cube, gentlemen, ice cube. Drip, drip, drip...

Alex Weitzman said...

BTW, Steve, a suggestion for a future entry that's sans-strike: your favorite examples of animation writing (TV/films/shorts), and why they're good. I'd be intrigued to see what you highlight.

Anonymous said...

thank god we have communist frauds like micah and socialist beaurocrats like the union leaders to save us poor helpless idiots from the big mean corporate giants who sit on big piles of money smoking cigars laughing at our struggles.
anyone with any brains sees how useless the union is and anyone with any integrity shuns micah for his deceptions.

Kevin Koch said...

In the interest of getting this discussion back to where I think Steve wanted it to go, I'm reprinting a piece of that LA Times editorial about America's Next Top Model that sounds pretty similar to some of what happened at Nick. First, recall that Micah has used his Nick "story" to illustrate that the current WGA leadership is far different from that six years ago (the last line of his original post: Or perhaps you prefer presidents like the President of the Guild back in 2001 who just threw up her hands when we were fired and blacklisted out of our careers and said, and I quote, "oh well, it was a good try.")

And now, a few key sections of the LA Times opinion from an ANTM story editor:

There was no talk of losing our jobs. We believed the guild's ambiguous promise, "you'll come out of this better than you went in."

We hoisted our WGA strike signs and never entered those offices again. In the weeks to come, our supporters would dwindle, then disappear.

The last week of September, we all received letters notifying us that our jobs had been eliminated, the entire story department abolished. The guild had vanished from our cause,


It doesn't sound like the WGA leadership changed that much from 2001 and 2007 -- people risked their jobs on a WGA organizing effort, people lost their jobs, the WGA moved on. Discuss.

Now, some smart person will come along and shift the thread to what I didn't reprint, namely the rest of that final sentence I excerpted from the LA Times piece:

The guild had vanished from our cause, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents the video editors, swooped in to unionize the show, freezing the WGA out of "Top Model" for good.

Of course, that charge is very much like the one Micah makes. "Yeah," the story goes, "the WGA screwed the pooch, but it's 839 that swept in and froze the WGA out." Except it's false in both cases. It seems to me that this is another consistency between the WGA in 2001 and in 2007 -- when you fail, blame it on the IA.

We've documented chapter and verse how it's false in the Nick case, how the "sweeping in" came a year later, how the WGA had already walked away, how there was never any back rooms involved. But what about in the ANTM case? That accusation about the IA was made over on The Artful Writer blog (by Patrick Meighan again), and one of the IA folks who was actually involved spoke up (the stuff in boldface are Patrick's statements that Dan Silvertree of IA Local 44 is responding to):

"…Tom Short should be reminded that the WGA was the first union … to attempt to organize reality writers at ANTM. And in both cases, the IA swept in, after the fact, and undercut the WGA’s organizing efforts by agreeing to a backroom deal with the studios to cover those very same jobs.

That’s a bit of a rewrite- IATSE did not ‘organize ANTM writers’ following the WGA’s strike, they organized the production crew. The editors on ANTM were already under contract to IATSE. In fact, no one organized ANTM “writers” or the story departments on any reality show. I wasn’t there for the nickelodeon deal, but I was for Top Model. (bear in mind that there are ‘reality’ shows that are under contract to the WGA’s MBA, such as Dancing with the Stars, with a fully covered WGA writer. Why the WGA didn’t force the jurisdictional issue with ABC over the others on that show that were creating ‘literary materials’ is unknown.)

I’d just like to point out that there’s nothing unprecendented or “beyond the pale” about a union using its organizing efforts as bargaining chips. For example, I happen to know that it’s a valuable and oft-used tool for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union (HERE). They spend years getting cards signed by workers in non-union Hiltons (while the Hilton chain, of course, fights the union off in as many hotels as it can for as long as it can), and then when the next negotiation cycle comes around, HERE uses those cards as chips. (i.e., “Let us cover the Dallas Hilton and the Miami Hilton, and we’ll drop our demands for more overtime.” Or, alternately, “Give us more overtime, and we’ll stop trying to cover the Dallas Hilton and the Miami Hilton.”) it’s a perfectly legitimate bargaining tool. And it’s effective, too.

Only if you have the leverage to push the employer. A problem with the WGA’s reality organizing campaign, the WGA’s strike at ANTM and perhaps the current strike, is the WGA doesn’t have the leverage it needs to quickly force the AMPTP’s hand. That’s why I thought that for the last few years, as well as trying to organize Reality TV, it would have behooved the WGA to form a real alliance w/ the IATSE and DGA, much the way they been trying to with SAG, and i guess SEIU…(?)

In any event, we all know we’re not on strike over reality jurisdiction. Does anyone here seriously believe that if the studios gave us what we wanted on new media residuals, we’d tell ‘em to go f themselves and just stay out on strike indefinitely over reality jurisdiction? Seriously?!

Patrick, it would seem that is exactly what just happened.

I know many are loathe to compare an labor action to a war, but strategically there are many parallels. Jeff Hermanson, the Organizing Director at the WGA has made that comparison many times, as he refers to his dog eared copy of “The Art of War.”

Rumesfeld said (paraphrasing) “you don’t go to war with the army you wish you had, you go to war with the army you have” - well, if you build up the army you ‘wish you had’ you will get far more predictable results. The WGA did not have the army it wished it had at ANTM and payed the price.

I believe that the WGA’s demands (all of them, including jurisdiction) are beyond reasonable, as I believe in the WGA’s membership’s right to strike- I think, however, that taking less then optimal leverage to the table is not responsible- to the members or to the community. Regardless of right or wrong, the AMTPT isn’t about to give you, or us, anything for free.

Dan Silvertree IATSE #44 Member
"

I think Dan's last couple of paragraphs are pretty wise, and relate to issues that I find too few writers are willing to acknowledge.

Kevin Koch said...

Oops, an anti-union troll slipped in while I was writing the last post.

Hey, my kind and thoughtful troll, did you see how useless 839 was at Nick a few weeks ago. You know, right around the time Viacom was announcing huge profits, when they also, in their abundant holiday cheer, shafted their non-union staff by slashing their benefits?

Let's see, the Nick animation staff has their excellent benefits intact. Thanks to a union contract. But over at Nick Animation's CG Division (they do "Tak" and the new "Penguins" show and some other stuff), which is non-union, and which is so successful they're significantly increasing their output . . . their benefits got slashed, too.

So maybe unions can and do protect employees from those cigar-smoking fat cats sitting on their piles of money. Maybe this whole union thing isn't so silly and obsolete, huh?

Anonymous said...

jesus you people are verbose. are any of you able to support your arguments without rattling on and on?

Anonymous said...

"jesus you people are verbose. are any of you able to support your arguments without rattling on and on?"

So it's more intelligent to make broad, idiot statements with no facts to back them up? What a Frank Burns this tool is.

Anonymous said...

no but maybe try making your points without endless stories from your life. personal experiences dont prove anything because we have no idea if your lying or not and in with the case of micah he most assuradly is.

Anonymous said...

Now that this horse been beaten to death, how about talking about what a bunch of hypocrites SAG and the WGA is. No special deals or crossing the picket lines for the Oscars or Golden Globes, but for the SAG Awards? Sure thing. Not that anyone except them give a shit about the SAG awards, of course.

Kevin Koch said...

I think that's a fairly trivial part of all this -- the SAG Awards are, well, for SAG. They get virtually no attention outside of Hollywood. SAG has been a staunch supporter of the WGA, so of course they're going to get a waiver.

Much more interesting is the discussion of what any labor organization can do in this day and age to (1) organize individual studios -- 'cause we all know there are plenty of non-union places, and (2) get significant improvements in the contracts they have.

That's what this discussion should be about, with the current WGA strike, the failed effort at ANTM, the organizing of Nick, etc., all as illustrations of broader issues. I think that's why Steve M. started this thread, and I think it'd be a useful discussion.

Anonymous said...

wow. that's what you think this discussion has been about? It's been more about who said what to who when and on what date and who's lying about this or that.

I gotta agree with the earlier post that the SAG awards, while maybe not pertinent to this particular discussion, does show exactly how self centered both groups are. If no wriers should work during the strike than the SAG awards should be included not waivered because thy give some camera time to the WGA.

Kevin Koch said...

I bow to the combined power of the anonymous internet troll army. I suspected I'd be completely wasting hours and hours of my time, and I have. Stupid me.

Peace out, and happy holidays.

Steve said...

Kevin;

It wasn't a waste. If you read between the trolling, there was some valuable info there.

Agree or disagree, at least a debate.

- Steve

Anonymous said...

A debate that added up to a big zero. Here's a better debate. Add up all your checks through IA shops in the last five years, then add up all your checks through WGA shops. Guess what? The bigger number wins! See how simple that is? The only debate here is your own. BTW, if the bigger number is WGA, remove that link to the IA and get on with it.

Steve said...

Dear anonymous;

It doesn't work that way. When I work in animation, I am not given a choice between unions... I have to join the union that the studio has signed with.

If it was totally my call, I chose to be repped by IATSE rules and then I complained? You're right. I'm a dick.

But if I'm hoping for changes within a union that I must belong to, that's different. That's dissent.

Matt Wayne said...

I think I've given up on debating union matters here.

My union apparently pays Kevin to put up 2000-word blog posts during business hours. To me, that's a good day's output, and I can't afford to argue this stuff for free.

I mean, Why bother jumping in when you're just gonna end up under a dogpile of the opposing view?

Kevin Koch said...

No, Matt, TAG doesn't pay me a cent. I perform this selfless service absolutely for free. Consider it my gift to you. Happy holidays!

Matt Wayne said...

My mistake. I thought being President was a paid position.

Steve Hulett said...

I get the glory of the paid TAG position. You'll notice my many posts here. Not.

Matt Wayne said...

Mind you, some of the dogpiles I've had coming.