Dear Fellow Members of the Writers Guild, East:I write this to you two nights before Christmas. It’s tough as hell to be on strike during the holiday season. Not only are we staging outdoor pickets and other events in the throes of winter’s cold, we’re without work and paychecks at a moment when gift giving and good times are very much on the minds of everyone around us, especially our friends and loved ones.

Yet we know that what we’re fighting for is worth it, that we’re exchanging our temporary stress and discomfort for future gain and security, not only for ourselves but those who will follow us as wordsmiths and storytellers.

The widespread pain and hardship of this strike would cease instantly if the studio and networks heads simply would realize the need to have their representatives return to the table and bargain a contract fairly and respectfully. We’re ready any time, any place, to sit down to negotiate — even as AMPTP members take off on holiday jaunts to Vail or Aspen or wherever it is moguls mogul.

Until then, the Guilds, East and West, continue to take actions that make our strength and position in the entertainment industry clear. This week, for example, a waiver was denied for writers to work on the Golden Globe Awards, as was a waiver for the use of film clips on the upcoming Oscars (the Oscars have not yet requested a waiver for writers). However, an interim agreement for writing services was granted for the Independent Spirit Awards, demonstrating Guild support for the independent film community.

What’s heartening is that despite the length of this strike, our solidarity remains intact, strong and committed. At events such as Monday’s Time Warner picket, honoring our daytime writers, and Tuesday’s Foley Square rally, at which the writers and stars of crimes shows presented a mock indictment of those who deny us an honest deal, we continue to demonstrate that our resolve and faith in the justice of our cause are as powerful as ever.

Even as we continue to show our strength in New York and Los Angeles, the word keeps spreading across the nation. On Thursday, Writers Guild members from Maryland and Washington, D.C., with allies from SAG, AFTRA, AFSCME, the Teamsters and other unions rallied at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The following day, writers and their supporters in the Atlanta area picketed the midtown “campus” of Turner, Inc., owned by Time Warner. Thanks to everyone who participated.

This week, a new USA Today/Gallup Poll reported that 60 percent of Americans support the Writers Guilds in their fight against the media corporations (only 14% backed the AMPTP). According to USA Today, “Six weeks into a strike by television and movie writers, public sentiment rests firmly against the studios.”

None of this would be possible without the Writers Guild, East, staff, many of whom have labored long and hard to make all of our strike events successful.

What’s more, I’d like to thank all of you for your continuing tenacity, patience and goodwill. I am so very proud to be counted among your number.

My holiday wish is that the New Year brings a just resolution to this conflict, that we can resume our lives of creativity and productivity knowing that with right on our side we have done our utmost to get the deal we merit and deserve.

Happy Holidays. Happy New Year.

In solidarity,
Michael Winship
Writers Guild of America, East