WGA Urges Members To Disregard “Misleading” Rumors & Strike Predictions

The WGA is urging members to disregard rumors about a possible strike as it prepares for upcoming contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

The guild put out a similar warning three years ago. And as before, a series of frequently asked questions posted on the websites of the WGA East and WGA West is more of a general overview of the negotiations process than saber-rattling. The union’s current film and TV contract expires May 1.

“Already, misleading and provocative information has appeared in the press and on social media,” the FAQ says. “Months before writers have collectively determined their bargaining agenda, there have been strike predictions in the trades and you may have heard rumors from executives, managers, agents, and fellow writers. These narratives – so pervasive that they’ve become industry conventional wisdom – seek to portray the WGA leadership as determined to strike regardless of how negotiations transpire. By painting the WGA as unreasonable, writers’ proposals can be dismissed as unreasonable too.

“Take rumors and ‘insider’ commentary with a grain of salt. Consider the source and motivations of comments about WGA goals, strategies, tactics, and priorities. Often, these comments are not sourced at all! Even well-meaning fellow members can be misinformed about the contract negotiations process. The only true authority on the status of MBA (Minimum Basic Agreement) negotiations is the WGA, as represented by designated member-leaders, your Captains, and staff.

“WGA contract negotiations are conducted through a democratic process, supported by thorough analysis of the industry and experienced campaign strategists. The membership decides what issues are brought to the table and whether or not to authorize a strike. Expect to hear debate among your fellow members – a fundamental aspect of any democracy – but don’t assume it’s a sign of discord. Recent experience has shown that WGA members are aligned on core issues and will take action when the stakes are clear. In 2017, the last time writers took a strike authorization vote, 96.3% voted in favor, creating the leverage negotiators needed to secure increases to the health fund and other gains. Throughout the history of the WGA, writers have proven that they can win new industry standards through collective action.”

RELATED: Historically, The WGA Is Overdue For A Strike, With Residuals Again A Key Issue Of Upcoming Talks

After reviewing the steps that will be taken leading up to and during the negotiating process, the FAQ asks: “What happens if writers go on strike?”

“The WGA leadership may call a strike only after the membership has authorized it and the current contract has expired,” says the FAQ. “If a strike is called, members are prohibited from performing covered writing services for companies that don’t have an agreement with the WGA. To demonstrate unity and resolve, writers picket and engage in other collective actions that help put pressure on the AMPTP to better their offer. Negotiations can continue during a strike.

“By striking and withholding their labor, writers use their leverage to secure meaningful economic gains for all union members. A strike can also be financially challenging for individual writers. Members may be eligible to receive assistance through a WGAE fund that would offer loans in the event of a strike. More specific information will be available in the event of a strike.”

RELATED: Strike Watch: Would WGA Build Coalition With DGA & SAG-AFTRA In Upcoming Contract Negotiations?

The WGA already has named the members of its negotiating committee, which with the support of staff, will craft what’s known as a “Pattern of Demands,” which are the guild’s general objectives for negotiations. Once the Pattern of the Demands is approved by the WGA West’s Board and the WGA East’s Council, it will be sent to the membership for a vote. The Negotiating Committee then decides on a set of specific bargaining proposals and negotiating priorities, and the guild will hold a series of membership meetings to get feedback on the bargaining agenda.

The WGA’s last strike was in 2007-08 – a walkout that lasted 100 days.

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WGA Urges Members To Disregard “Misleading” Rumors & Strike Predictions

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