WGA Strike: What Does It Mean? What Can You Do?

The Writers Guild of America, the group responsible for basically all of our beloved films and television shows, is on strike as of 12:01AM today. What does this mean for your favorite show? And what can you do to support them?

Let me be very clear. The Geekiary fully supports the WGA. They have been in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), hoping to get a better deal on things like streaming residuals and protection from use of AI in script-writing. They want to make sure writers have a guaranteed contract length and that they’re paid for things like edits and re-writes.

The WGA posted their list of proposals, as well as the AMPTP’s “counter offers” (in some cases there was just straight up refusal), on their website. Implementing all of the proposals would only cost about $600 million total and could offer writers a fair wage and increased protections.

So what does a WGA strike mean for your favorite TV shows? Well, those of us that lived through the previous strike, in 2007, can tell you that not every show will survive. Those that are already completed should still be released on schedule. (For example, Neil Gaiman has confirmed that the strike should not effect the release of season 2 of Good Omens, which is scheduled for this summer.) But shows still in production have shuttered their writers’ rooms, which means that they will have to go on hiatus until things are resolved.

This means, sadly, that some shows will be canceled. Others will be put on the backburner. Some shows will drop in quality. A lot of us remember what happened to shows like Heroes during the previous strike.

We’re also likely to get a sudden influx of “reality” TV. Regardless of your opinion on the genre, I think we can all agree that nothing takes the place of quality, scripted shows. (Or even not quality scripted shows, let’s be real here.)

The strike could also have an effect on upcoming conventions, especially if the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) goes on a solidarity strike. Exceptions had been made in the past for some members of the WGA to do promotional work during a strike. (For instance, many showrunners are members of the WGA but are also directors and producers.) This year, the WGA has updated their protocol that no members can do promotion until the strike is over. Convention-wise, though, few writers appear on panels, unless they are also the showrunner.

However, if SAG goes on strike, members of their union are not allowed to do promo. This means no appearing on panels, no doing interviews (most late night talk shows went dark anyway), and things like that. San Diego Comic-Con, the most likely to be seriously affected, is in about ten weeks. An SDCC panel without showrunners or actors would be a very boring panel indeed.

Now, you’re probably wondering, “What can I do to help?”

WGA member Diane Duane (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Batman: The Animated Series) has made a post on Tumblr suggesting a few things that those sympathetic to the cause can do to support. Basically, be vocal, and be visible.

Social media wasn’t a big thing in 2007, but I think we all know how successful Twitter campaigns can be in this day and age. You don’t have to spam the hashtags (#DoTheWriteThing, #WGAStrike, #WGAStrong), but posting in support of the WGA a few times a week will help to prevent the strike from going away quietly. There is a social media toolkit on the webpage.

Currently, there are no calls for boycotting or canceling memberships. I have seen some people suggest not to use any AI chatbots in solidarity, though.

If you’re a member of a guild or union, consider adding your support to the WGA website.

John Rogers (Leverage) has also suggested people donate to the Entertainment Community Fund, in order to aid those in Hollywood who will be affected by the strike. Instructions for how to make sure your donation goes where it’s needed are in Rogers’ Twitter thread.

There is also the option of writing letters. I’m sure everyone can think of at least one fan campaign that involved sending something to a studio (mailing hot sauce to save Roswell, ships in a bottle for Our Flag Means Death). Write to the AMPTP members’ CEOs.

And if you happen to live in an area where members are picketing, show up and support them in person! If you drive past them, honk. Ask to join the picket lines. Make creative signs. Stuff like this gets noticed and makes news.

Don’t let this go away quietly. Make your support known. Encourage AMPTP to do the “write” thing. Creative work is work, and they deserve to be fairly compensated.

Updated 2:54pm 5/4/23.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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