WGA Strike: Sound and Fury?

The latest on the potential writers strike is at Backstage.com and I am left wondering if there is any point in the constant rehashing of the issue. And yes, that is exactly what I am about to do. I can’t really help myself.

If you work in Hollywood, want to work in Hollywood, or are even vaguely interested in people who work in Hollywood, you already know that the WGA is negotiating for better residual pay and other benefits for union writers. Every industry rag has said something about it – the same something, over and over – and I have mostly ignored them, my feeling being that the Writers Guild will either call for a strike or they won’t; the DGA and SAG will either join in or they won’t. At the same time, I’ve spent the last several months trying to start a career as a writer and the timing of this potential strike is extremely inconvenient.

So I’m going to continue shopping specs and looking for rewrite work, and continue ignoring the news-that-isn’t-news about the strike (perhaps I’ll pay attention if and when anyone has anything new to say), but I have to admit that I’m feeling more pessimistic by the day.

6 Replies to “WGA Strike: Sound and Fury?”

  1. Ten bucks says the studios eventually figure out that they don’t need unions and start bringing new writers in with staff contracts.

  2. But if you’re not a WGA member, how does a strike affect you? The strike in ’88 brought in reality-based productions(the old=school shows, with “recreations”) which are now mainstays of cheap programming, and aren’t union.

    Stockpiling scripts is an insurance policy for the networks, but reality programming is strike proof.

  3. Cutter – I think a return to the studio system (which is basically what you’re describing) would be a lot more difficult than you make it sound. That said, it does seem logical.

    Karla – It affects me personally because I write features. I am guaranteed to get zero work if there is a strike, because I don’t have any interest or expertise in reality TV. (Incidentally, it’s my understanding that there is a push for reality to go union, but I don’t know if it’s related to the current negotiations.)

  4. Annika: The WGA organizing effort in reality started 18 months ago. The reality companies are playing all kinds of illegal games with falsifying time cards, and plenty of good writers are toiling away the best years of their careers in reality TV with no pension contributions and no health care coverage. It’s the same situation animation writers faced a few years ago before they organized. Patrick Barone, WGA president, was one of those writers.

    And re: the studio system, you’d still be in the union if you were on staff at a studio. News writers on staff at the networks are in their guilds.

    The WGA — and other entertainment guilds — are among the few that I believe actually do good for their members.

  5. If you’re not a union writer, you can write and pitch specs all you want. If you are a union member, you can work in non covered areas, ie non-covered areas (animation, reality television, video games, some basic cable).

    Union members can’t write live action films, nor can they write for network television.

    If you’re a union member working for a non-union show now (presumably one outside of jurisdiction, like a reality program), a strike won’t affect your job at all.

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