Late last week, the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike surpassed the length of the 2007-2008 strike, which lasted 93 days. While not the longest of all time, with the 1988 writers strike making it to 154 days, the 2023 strike is expected to make it to 100 days later this week. That milestone, however, is likely not going to sway either the WGA or the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) as talks are still not happening as of Tuesday afternoon.
The latest attempt at restarting negotiations ground to a halt last Friday when neither side could agree to the topics on the table. The WGA sent out a press release accusing the AMPTP of leaking stories to the press and delaying negotiations to consult with the studios. The AMPTP, meanwhile, decided not to comment on the situation, due to agreeing to a media blackout.
Meanwhile, pickets continued this week despite the behind the scenes drama. The WGA has sent out several press releases about the alleged “playbook” of the studios, saying that they are pulling a disinformation strategy. Studios, however, have simply maintained that they still want to meet with the WGA for a new deal.
On Tuesday, the Globe went out to Burbank right after the daily 3 hour picket ended to speak with picketers about what the strike has been like from the surface level. Before any questions were given, picketers quickly pointed out a flaw in the WGAs plans.
“When this first started, I thought we would be out there in shifts around the clock,” said Amy, a picketing writer, to the Globe. “My sister was part of a teachers strike years ago and they were out there all day, moving slowly in front of cars to pile up traffic legally and using all these tactics that were working. Do me a favor. Go to the WGA website and look at what our picketing times are.”
According to the WGA site, daily pickets are from 9 A.M. to 12 P.M., with some lasting to 2 P.M.
“That’s not what you would call inspirational,” added Jack, another writer. “We’re doing it like this for a reason, but all we are doing is getting some good images out there for the media coming here and slightly pissing off the studios. That’s it. The vast majority of people ignore us. You know, I was part of the last strike, and for preparation, an older writer said how these autoworkers in Flint stayed in a factory for weeks until they got what they wanted. They seized the means of production.”
“And look at all these great labor leaders that followed, like Walter Reuther and John Lewis. And who do we have? Ellen Stutzman? A lot of WGA writers do not like her. Adam Conover? Nice guy, really smart, but rubs a lot of people the wrong way.”
Amy added, “These picket lines seem, to a lot of us, that we’re only doing it for the cameras. We are out there only so many hours for a reason, true, but if we wanted to be effective it would be more. We should be blocking people crossing the line from getting in for as long as legally possible. Disney animators did that to Walt just down the road here when they went on strike in the 40’s. We need to show resolve too, and we’re just not doing it.”
The WGA strike nears 100 days
A third writer, Rhea, then told the Globe, “We’re frustrated. The WGA is really trying to downplay how a lot of us will be out of money in a few months, like the studios have said that they are planning to do, but it is affecting us. Out here on the line, you know, we should be feeling solidarity, but at least for some of us, it’s growing dread. We want a fair deal. We want writer contracts and not a pay by the day situations. We want no AI. And yes, we do want better pay and a more stable future. But the WGA is trying to get everything, and it is looking less and less realistic.”
Amy added again, “We’re putting on a brave face out there, especially when the cameras are out. You know, look passionate, show energy, don’t be looking at your phones, and all that. But when you get home, it hits you that you have been out of work for three months and that there is no end in sight to this thing.”
“We want to stay positive,” noted Jack for the second time. “We really do. And many members have somehow. Well, some have rich spouses, so they’re fine financially, so I’m sure that helps. But we are really struggling. We’re going to stay strong for awhile more. But yeah, just as the studios said, right around October people are going to be panicking. A lot of us are middle class trying to get by.”
On the way out, a fourth striker approached the Globe when the other three left. The striker, who didn’t even want a pseudonym or to use his first name said, “I didn’t want to say this in front of the others, but I only joined the union here to get a writing job. You’d be surprised just how many are in the union only for the job and are doing the bare minimum during the strike.”
“We have more loyalty to Disney than the [expletive] WGA. We joined to be part of that Disney experience, or to write for a show on FOX that they liked, or because they wanted to get a start with Netflix, or whatever. We really want to get back to writing. Personally, I don’t even give a damn about the union. I just want to write for the things I love again. I bet you won’t find someone interviewing with CNN or CBS saying that.”
“A lot of people on strike are full, 100% in on the WGA and striking until they get a favorable deal. What I want you and the others to know though is that we are all not like that. Like I said a lot of us just want to work. It’s not all solidarity despite what they say.”
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