WGA Asks Writers to Picket if Strike Happens This Week

Hollywood is just hours away from shutting down. Should the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers not be able to strike a new deal by midnight on Monday, May 1st, the agreement between the outfits will expire and the WGA will likely begin an immediate strike. Ahead of the looming shutdown, WGA officials distributed an email Sunday asking union members to picket should a strike begin this week.

“The greatest amount of leverage we collectively bring to a strike action is the withdrawal of our labor,” the guild wrote in an email to its members Sunday afternoon (via Variety). “Picketing is a key tactic to demonstrate that we are all in this together, and that until a strike is resolved, it’s not business as usual.”

WGA members overwhelmingly approved a strike earlier this month if negotiations didn’t prove fruitful. In the vote that took place in mid-April, a whopping 97.85-percent of WGA members voted to authorize a strike should WGA officials deem it necessary if no new agreement is signed.

Shortly after the vote, a statement from the AMPTP claimed the WGA has been aiming for a strike throughout the entirety of negotiations.

“A strike authorization vote has always been part of the WGA’s plan, announced before the parties even exchanged proposals. Its inevitable ratification should come as no surprise to anyone,” the group’s statement reads.

The last strike took place during the waning months of 2007 and into 2008, heavily impacting network television at the time. Then, screenwriters stopped writing for 100 days, forcing the delay and reduced episode count of virtually every show on television.

What are the new WGA contract disputes over?

Given the skyrocketing popularity of shows and films on streaming, the WGA is hoping to increase royalty and residual payments from those shows placed on streaming platforms to an amount resembling that of network television. Other points include general compensation, with the writers guild looking for higher wages all-around, and regulating the size of writer’s rooms in an attempt to help keep more writers employed.