With the film and TV industry on the precipice of a labor strike from the WGA, the first since 2007, the Board of Directors of Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. and the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGA) have adopted strike rules that will go into effect if and when the Guild calls a strike.
The WGA, which represents around 11,500 film and television writers, and AMPTP have been negotiating since March 20. Little to no information about progress has been released. Neither party has spoken publicly.
According to the statement, in the event of a strike, each WGAW and WGAE member is required to follow these strike rules. “The purpose of the Rules is to win the best possible contract for writers. Please take the time to read and review the Strike Rules in their entirety. Strict adherence by all Guild members leads to a more effective strike and ultimately a better MBA,” said an email to members.
Simply put, writers and their representatives may not meet or negotiate with a struck company; and writers cannot perform writing services, sell or option literary material to a struck company.
As explained in detail in the rules themselves, prohibited conduct includes:
- Performance of writing services for or delivery of literary material to struck company; and
- negotiations and discussions regarding present or future writing projects.
This rule also prohibits writers from attending meetings, or engaging in conversations as a writer concerning new, pending or future projects or writing assignments with producers, directors or other representatives of any struck company.
Writers may not attend pitch meetings or communicate with a company representative to receive notes on literary material even if they intend to wait until the strike ends to make any requested changes.
There are also certain notice requirements, including:
- notice to the companies to return writer-owned “spec” literary material; and
- notice to your agent or other representatives to discontinue conducting negotiations on your behalf.
There are rules related to picket lines and other strike support activity, including:
- honoring all Guild picket lines;
- performing assigned strike support duties; and
- informing the Guild of strikebreaking activity.
Finally, please note these features of the rules:
- Covered work
The Rules prohibit the performance of writing services for a struck company in connection with audiovisual or audio works intended for initial exhibition in any market covered by the MBA, including feature motion pictures, television and new media, as well as the option or sale of literary material for that purpose.
The rules apply to all animated series covered by a WGA contract. Writers who wish to perform writing services in connection with fully animated theatrical features and television programs are advised to consult with WGA staff to determine whether such writing is prohibited before performing, or contracting to perform, any writing services. Members should assume that projects combining live action and animation are covered by the Strike Rules.
- Fiction Podcasts
The rules apply to fiction podcasts covered by a WGA contract. Writers who wish to perform writing services for fiction podcasts are advised to consult with WGA staff to determine whether such writing is prohibited before performing, or contracting to perform, any writing services.
The rules prohibit hyphenates (members who are employed in dual capacities) from performing any writing services, including the “(a) through (h)” functions. See Rule 12 below.
The Guild also states that it, “does not have the authority to discipline nonmembers for strikebreaking or scab writing. However, the Guild can and will bar that writer from future Guild membership.”
The WGA is seeking higher compensation for writers. This includes:
- higher wage floors across the board
- standardizing fees for streaming and theatrical films
- expanding span protection (which shields writers being compensated per episode from working for long periods on short-order series)
- regulating mini rooms
- instituting a mandatory two “steps” (points of payment) for feature writers.
The guild is additionally pushing for minimum television writing staff sizes and a minimum number of weeks of employment, THR reported in February.
Artificial intelligence has also been a dominant part of the ongoing conversation. With the rise of ChatGPT and other chatbots that produce written material, the guild is advocating to prohibit AI-produced or AI-rewritten content from being covered under the contract.
Banning companies from assigning writers adaptations of writing originally generated by the technology is also a priority.
The contract expires on May 1.