When the WGA’s current contract expires in May 2017, it will have been almost 10 years since writers last struck the film and TV industry. Negotiations for a new contract won’t start for another 18 months, but the topic is taking center stage in the the guild’s ongoing officer and board elections as those elected will represent film and TV writers in the upcoming negotiations with producers. Gearing up for tough talks, WGA candidates are already talking about the need for a “viable strike threat.”
Incumbent board candidate Patric Veronne, who as president led the guild’s last strike, wrote in his campaign statement that the guild should start preparing now for another walkout in 2017. “Leverage in collective bargaining,” he wrote, “is most effectively built through the careful development of a viable strike threat, applied by a thoughtful and strategic board of directors. Thus, this should be the focus of, and the most important work to be performed by, the board you select in this election.” ...
Strikes have their uses, but they are always a double-edged sword.
When the Animation Guild was wrestling with the AMPTP in contract negotiations three years ago, we held a meeting that had 250 members in attendance. There was a lot of discussion about what strategies to take, and the subject of a labor strike was bandied about. Some dual card holders (WGAw and TAG) spoke at length about the 2007 WGA strike, and how they didn't think it had gained, after all the dust had settled, live-action writers a whole hell of a lot.
I participated in the 2007-2008 WGA strike a bit, walking the picket line in front of Universal on multiple days, but I'll be frank. I didn't have skin in the game, I was just a body on the picket line, helping out.
For the folks who did have an investment, certainly the ones I've talked to, there's divided opinions on how worthwhile it all was. My opinion is, the strike was helpful in getting New Media under union jurisdiction, even though the studios used the strike to roll back over-scale deals. And even though the Directors Guild of America rolled in during the writers' strike and pretty much set the template for the side letters for SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) that followed.
Still in all, I can see where the Writers Guild is going with this; New Media has played a larger and larger role in the way the public receives its movies and tv shows, and the day will come when the DGA, WGA, SAG-AFTRA and IATSE demand that "New Media" has wage parity with all the other delivery pipelines. A strike might well be the only way to ultimately get it.