The Writers Guild of America told its members on Sunday they should be prepared to protest if a new deal is not reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers by the May 1 deadline.
In an email sent to members on Sunday night, the guild’s negotiating committee also asked writers to fill out a survey about their preferred strike locations and times.
“As the WGA Negotiation Committee continues to negotiate with the AMPTP with the goal of reaching a fair deal by tomorrow’s contract deadline of May 1, we must be prepared for a possible strike,” the email read. “The biggest influence we collectively exert on a strike is the withdrawal of our labor. Picketing is an important tactic to show that we are all in this together, and that until a strike is resolved, it is not business as usual.”
The committee added that if a strike is approved, information on the locations and times of the strikes will be sent to members and posted on the WGA Campaign 2023 website.
Negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA took place throughout the weekend as the clock ran out on the union’s current three-year contract, which expires at midnight on Monday. The two sides have exchanged proposals and counterproposals over residues and data transparency from streamers, according to a source aware of the status of the talks. Further negotiations will take place on Monday and are expected to last until the last minute as the WGA often try to increase their clout by negotiating contracts until the last minute.
WGA members last week posted picket signs in preparation for a possible strike, which was approved by nearly 98 percent of union members in a vote weeks earlier. (It’s not uncommon for a union to make pickets for a possible strike even when one doesn’t happen; IATSE members did the same before their leaders reached a deal that was narrowly ratified in the fall of 2021.)
The boards created last week specifically target AMPTP, Amazon, Disney, NBC/Peacock, Netflix, Paramount, and Warner Bros. Discovery with “FAIR CONTRACT” written next to the studio’s hand-drawn logos. Other signs include slogans such as ‘The future of writing is at stake’.
The timing of the pickets, a self-proclaimed WGA captain described on Sunday, depends on a number of factors. “It is possible that if a deal appears unlikely earlier on Monday night, we will be notified to get ready for Tuesday morning,” said Daniel Kunka. tweeted. “If the negotiations run very late (and remember that the WGA (East) is three hours later), we can start penciling on Tuesday morning, but don’t start picking until the afternoon.”
WGA leaders will convene a meeting on Wednesday for members, regardless of whether a deal has been reached or not, to explain the decision.
Under the WGA strike rules circulated last week, all members must pick up at assigned locations in the event of a strike, “in the absence of a valid medical excuse, non-written work, compelling personal circumstances (e.g., essential care for children or elderly) or emergencies.”
In the event of a strike, writers may not write, revise, pitch, or discuss future projects with AMPTP member companies. If members fail to comply, the guild may take disciplinary action for violations, including but not limited to expulsion or suspension of membership, imposition of monetary fines or censorship.