Union Issues Member Rules – The Hollywood Reporter

The Writers Guild of America has released the rules that would go into effect if the organization decides to strike when the current contract expires on May 1.

While the WGA hasn’t made a decision to strike yet, the guild is currently in active negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for a new contract, and 98 percent of members have voted to authorize a strike if a new deal isn’t reached by then.

The principle behind the rules, the organization wrote in an email to members, is that writers or their agents may not meet or negotiate with a struck company or provide writing services or sell or option literary material to a struck company.

During a strike, writers cannot do any writing, revising, pitching or discussing future projects with companies that are members of the AMPTP. If members do not abide by the rules, the Guild can impose discipline for violations, including but not limited to, expulsion or suspension from membership, imposition of monetary fines or censure.

The Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA have both released statements in support of the WGA, urging studios and streamers to work with the organization in its contract negotiations.

“It is long past time for the studios, streamers and other employers in the entertainment industry to remove roadblocks to fair and equitable wages and working conditions,” read SAG-AFTRA’s statement. “And to agree to terms that reflect the unique worth and contribution of creative talent and workers, without whom the industry would not exist.”

The DGA echoed that statement in its own, writing, “All the creative talent, artisans, craftspeople, and workers who make the films and television shows that drive our industry deserve to earn a stable living and share in the success we build together.”

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter prior to negotiations, chief negotiator Ellen Stutzman explained that the Guild would go into the negotiations with the goal of making a deal but not just any deal. “It’s got to be a deal that addresses writer issues.” She added, “This is a union that’s willing to take action when necessary.”

In response to the potential strike, the AMPTP has said that a deal “is only possible if the Guild is committed to turning its focus to serious bargaining by engaging in full discussions of the issues with the Companies and searching for reasonable compromises.”

Some of the WGA’s strike rules include:

  • In addition to the obvious pencils-down when the strike begins, writers are prohibited 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.”
  • Fiction podcasts for struck companies are included in the work stoppage.
  • Literary reps must stop negotiations for writers on strike during the strike.
  • Writers are instructed to “inform the Guild of the name of any writer you have reason to believe is engaged in scab writing or other strikebreaking activity.”
  • Writers are obligated to picket as assigned unless they have an accepted medical exception, personal circumstance or other employment.
  • Certain unionized animation projects fall under WGA jurisdiction, while others are under the purview of The Animation Guild (an IATSE Local). During a strike, the guild advises that all writing must stop on WGA-covered titles. Others “are advised to consult with staff at the Guild’s strike headquarters to determine the extent such writing is permitted or prohibited before performing any services for a struck company.”
  • If a strike is ordered, the WGA tells its members that they must inform companies to return or delete any “spec” scripts that have previously been submitted to those entities.
  • In a bid to avoid union members from attempting to resolve a potential strike on their own, the WGA also orders members: “Do not attempt to negotiate a settlement of the strike with any struck company.”
  • “Hyphenates” — writers who also serve in other roles — are also told to perform no writing duties whatsoever during the strike.
  • Pertaining to non-members: The Guild does not have the authority to discipline non-members for strikebreaking or scab writing. However, the Guild can and will bar that writer from future Guild membership.

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