Updated with details of the LA meeting… On the second day of the Writers Guild of America’s first strike in 15 years, the guild is holding large meetings on both coasts with members to describe how they got here, what’s going on, and what’s happening.
Picket lines were broken earlier Wednesday as the WGA East gathered at The Great Hall at Cooper Union in NYC and the WGA West gathered at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The earlier event was scheduled to begin at 6pm ET, while the packed crowd was set for 7pm PT. The Great Hall has a capacity of nearly 1,000, and the former Oscars Arena can hold around 6,000.
Although the Great Hall meeting took a little longer than expected to begin, sources at the venue said the crowd was clearly fired up. Bringing in the solidarity of other guilds and unions like IATSE, there was a big round of applause from the WGA members. “The entire labor movement is behind us,” a WGA president told the crowd. “The White House is behind us.”
Although the gathering inside the Great Hall took a little longer than expected to begin, the crowd was evident, according to sources at the venue. Bringing in the solidarity of other guilds and unions like IATSE, there was a big round of applause from the WGA members. “The entire labor movement is behind us,” a WGA president told the crowd. “The White House is behind us.”
Starting later than planned, due to a large line to check in, tonight’s Temple event on the West Coast drew support from DGA Negotiating Committee Chairman John Avent and IATSE and SAG-AFTRA leaders. Hollywood Teamsters President Lindsey Dougherty also gave a strong endorsement to the WGA and received a standing ovation from the 1,800-plus union crowd, we hear.
Perhaps the loudest and most intense applause of the night so far went to WGA chief negotiator Ellen Stutzman. The audience quickly rose to its feet with a standing ovation for Stutzman at the start of the evening’s event.
Both meetings on both coasts gave members an overview of the guild’s demands and intentions in the ultimately failed talks with studios that led to the start of this week’s largest Hollywood labor action since 2008.
Deadline spoke to some of those at the Manhattan site before the meeting began.
Shortly after joining the WGA, John Mahon got the first look at the world he wished all comedy television writers could live and work like himself: he was on set, and the production he was attached to happened right in front of him. , he wrote.
“Having that kind of experience as a writer really informs you,” Mahon said Wednesday evening as he marched through Manhattan with other striking WGA writers to a gathering of union members at Cooper Union College. “Because you can see the limits; You can see how your thoughts really come to life. When you’re in a room, writing on paper, it’s easy to come up with all these ideas, but to actually see them being implemented and being on set – that’s a priceless experience.
That experience was lost to other, younger writers was one of the reasons Mahone was written for Our flag is death And Women 5, said he participated in the picket this week. Access to products “has become a big hurdle for us,” he said.
“You get paid to cover your episode on set,” he said. “But those days have been over for a few years now.”
Among those attending Wednesday’s meeting of union members in Manhattan was Alex Zaragoza, who joined the WGA as a writer for the news and culture outlet Vice and whose membership is transitioning writing careers to television. When the Guild voted to strike, “I ended up working on a show that didn’t go to series yet,” Zaragoza said, handing her picket sign to a union representative and preparing to join other writers inside the Foundation building. , also known as the Great Hall, is a members-only meeting at Cooper Union College that is closed to the press.
“About a month ago, I wrapped another show I was working on, so I was sitting and waiting — literally sitting, waiting to see if I could work. To plan what I was going to do if I couldn’t work in my current field, in my current career, in television. Make money. What am I going to do?”
Zaragoza recounted his experience with the WGA at Vice, where he was a union representative on the bargaining team.
“It was the first time I’d ever had a union job,” he said, “and the difference it made in feeling like I wasn’t lost, it felt like you were actually part of a unit that was fighting and coping together. Bad managers, when my colleagues had to make layoffs. Make sure they are disconnected properly – I mean several things.
She acknowledged that the WGA now asks a lot of its members, but said, “Here’s the thing: We voted for this. We overwhelmingly voted yes because we know its importance. It’s asking a lot but asking what we need: we need a fight. … Almost 100 percent of our members were willing to picket the streets to drop those checks. It is necessary, as we know it, for the collective good, for the greater good, and for our true future. No matter how hard it is, it has to be done. “
Talks between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new three-way contract began more than a month ago and ended on May 1, with only hours remaining on the current deal. Despite a nearly 98% strike authorization vote mandated by WGA members in April to guild leaders, the studios didn’t take the possibility of labor action seriously or really care. With the two sides far apart over money, transparency, job security and what the role of writers should be in the changing industry, the WGA announced a leadership strike in the early hours of May 2.
The last time the WGA went on strike was in 2007-2008, when the labor action lasted 100 days.