The WGA’s film and TV contract expires tonight at midnight. The current pact had been set to expire May 1, but was extended to midnight June 30 because of the coronavirus shutdown. The guild and management’s AMPTP started bargaining via video conference on May 18. The guild is seeking a wide range of improvements, including tiered bonuses for streaming residuals, first-ever residuals for films shown in foreign markets, increased minimums, higher employer pension and health contributions by employers and workplace protections against sexual harassment, as well as inclusion and equity provisions.
The WGA East and West last went on strike in 2007-08 – a walkout that lasted 100 days. To date, however, there has been no membership strike authorization, as is required by the WGA’s constitution. If a deal isn’t done tonight, the two sides may agree to extend the contract again if an agreement appears to be within reach.
In its FAQ on the negotiations, the guild said the following:
What happens if we go on strike? The WGA leadership may call a strike only after the membership has authorized it and the current contract has expired. If a strike is called, members are prohibited from performing covered writing services for companies that don’t have an agreement with the WGA. To demonstrate our unity and resolve, writers picket and engage in other actions that put pressure on the AMPTP to better their offer. Negotiations can continue during a strike.
A strike can give us the leverage needed to secure meaningful economic gains for writers. It can also be financially challenging for members. In the event of a strike, a strike fund committee will oversee the Guild’s $18 million strike fund for members facing hardships due to the action. Members facing financial hardship may also be eligible for assistance through the Good and Welfare Emergency Fund.