As the Writers Union of America strike concludes its fourth week today, with no end in sight, the strikers will depart from the picketing script that defined the first month of their strike and instead engage in what it is expected to be a large demonstration of various unions in the center of the city.
“We are changing the normal picket time at Los Angeles studios so writers can attend a historic multi-union rally,” WGA leaders said in a message to members last week.
Numerous unions are expected to join the striking writers for a 5 pm rally at South Figueroa and West 12th Streets, near the Convention Center, where the state Democratic Party holds its annual meetings.
According to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, in addition to the WGA, the rally will include members of SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and Teamsters, along with hotel workers, teachers, SEIU 721, SEIU 1000 and AFSCME.
Organizers said the rally attendees represent more than 200,000 workers in Los Angeles whose contracts are about to expire.
SAG-AFTRA is nearing the end of its contract with the Film and Television Producers Alliance, which represents Hollywood studios, and last week its leaders called for a strike authorization vote as labor negotiations neared. .
The short answer is pretty much every show in production, but there are specific types of shows that are already seeing the effects of the Writers Guild of America strike.
The studios are also in contract talks with the Directors Guild of America.
Friday’s rally changes the picketing game plan for the WGA, which since May 2 has been picketing outside major Los Angeles-area studios.
But no progress has been made in resolving the dispute, with no word of talks underway or on the radar.
“There is no official rule that prevents studios from doing a fair deal with writers while they are in negotiations with another union,” the WGA tweeted Thursday. “It is the choice of the studios to let the strike continue.”
In an email sent to its members on Monday, the WGA acknowledged how difficult it is for writers to be on strike and not get paid.
“I know it’s hard to be around emotionally and physically,” Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, a member of the WGA Bargaining Committee, wrote in the email. handing out leaflets and demonstrating in public, combined with labor retention, is action and we are now an important part of a national and global union movement.”
The WGA is pushing for improvements on a variety of fronts, notably a higher residual payout for broadcast shows that have larger audiences, rather than the existing model that pays a standard fee regardless of the show’s success.
The union is also calling for industry standards on the number of writers assigned to each show, increases in foreign broadcast waste and regulations that prevent the use of artificial intelligence technology to write or rewrite any literary material.
The AMPTP has opposed some of the WGA’s demands, particularly around its calls for mandatory recruitment and employment guarantees in the programs. AMPTP also opposed WGA’s demands around broadcast waste, saying the guild’s offer would increase fees by 200%.
The use of artificial intelligence has become an important issue. The WGA says it wants to ban the use of AI and maintains that the AMPTP has refused to even negotiate on the issue. The AMPTP said the issue raises “significant creative and legal questions” and requires “much more discussion, which we have committed to do.”
The strike has had an impact on television viewership, with late-night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live” being forced to air. The strike has also led to the closure of numerous television and film productions as other union members refused to cross the street pickets
The last WGA strike lasted from November 2007 to February 2008.
Industry experts estimated that the 100-day strike cost the local economy between $2 billion and $3 billion. With both sides still at odds, many observers fear the current strike could last even longer.
On June 7, the AMPTP is scheduled to begin negotiations with the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA, which has already spoken out in firm support for the striking scriptwriters. The AMPTP began labor talks May 10 with the Directors Guild of America, which seeks to address many of the same issues involved in the WGA deadlock. The DGA’s contract with the AMPTP expires on June 30.