WGA Agrees Not to Picket Grammy Awards Show

By Lee, Thomas F. | International Musician, February 2008 | Go to article overview

WGA Agrees Not to Picket Grammy Awards Show


Lee, Thomas F., International Musician


After weeks of unsuccessful negotiations, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) called a strike on November 5, 2007 against producers and employers represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. At that time I expressed AFM's support of a fair contract with proper resolution of media issues to Patric Verrone, president of WGA West, and Michael Winship, president of WGA East. I'm proud that AFM members on both coasts have marched on WGA's picket lines in support of our brothers and sisters.

Although the job action is having a negative impact on new television shows and motion pictures, positive results are being achieved. David Letterman's company, World Wide Pants, Inc., returned to the air after making an independent agreement with the WGA. Additionally, some motion picture producers have been granted private agreements by the WGA and production will resume under these agreements.

In January, I received a call from Neil Portnow, CEO of the Recording Academy, during which he shared his concern about the effect that the WGA strike might have on the Grammy Awards show. The Recording Academy is a nonprofit organization that uses the money realized from this annual broadcast to operate throughout the year and promote programs for high school musicians, music education, and seminars for musicians, and provide resources to those who may need medical assistance. In addition, the Recording Academy is a partner with the AFM and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) in fighting piracy and working to ensure that musicians receive proper compensation in the area of new digital media. A cancellation of this internationally televised show would have a devastating effect on the Recording Academy's ability to work with AFM and AFTRA and reduce our influence in the important area of intellectual property matters that are before Congress. To address our concerns, a conference call was held with the Executive Director of AFTRA, Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, and Portnow, during which it was agreed that AFM and AFTRA would take their concerns directly to WGA President Verrone.

Verrone was kind enough to schedule a meeting with AFTRA President Roberta Reardon, AFM Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio, Hedgpeth, and me during which we explained that the Grammy Awards show is a celebration of the achievements of mostly AFM and AFTRA members similar to the SAG Awards for actors. …

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