In a statement Thursday — WGA’s 94th day striking against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — the union challenged Hollywood studios to present a “new playbook” ahead of their Friday meeting.
“Be willing to make a fair deal and begin to repair the damage your strikes and your business practices have caused the workers in this industry,” the statement from the WGA negotiating committee read.
“It is obviously past time for the companies to get a new playbook — one that recognizes the legitimate issues that caused these strikes and takes steps to address them,” they added.
The statement denounced what the union saw as the AMPTP’s continued insistence to approach their negotiations with the same “tired, anti-union playbook straight out of the 2007/08 strike.”
“Playbooks die hard,” the committee said, adding: “Every move they make at the bargaining table and every rumor away from it needs to be evaluated through the lens of their attempts to get us to accept less.”
“We’re not falling for it,” they said. “Writers — screenwriters, Appendix A writers, episodic television writers, all writers — have marched together for 94 days now. We have struck to make writing a viable profession for all of us, now and in the future. We have not come all this way, and sacrificed this much, to half-save ourselves.”
In a counter statement obtained by TheWrap, the AMPTP called the content of the WGA’s Thursday statement “unfortunate.”
“Tomorrow’s discussion with the WGA is to determine whether we have a willing bargaining partner. The WGA Bargaining Committee’s rhetoric is unfortunate,” the statement read. “This strike has hurt thousands of people in this industry, and we take that very seriously. Our only playbook is getting people back to work.”
The WGA maintained that part of the AMPTP’s ongoing strategy involves planting anonymous quotes in the media to fear-monger the striking workers — a “calculated disinformation” campaign of “rumors and lies to weaken our resolve” and to perpetuate a “myth that the strike has no impact because streaming services have libraries and some product in the pipeline.”
But the union said it would hold its resolve, emphasizing, “We have struck to make writing a viable profession for all of us, now and in the future. We have not come all this way, and sacrificed this much, to half-save ourselves.”
On Wednesday, the WGA accepted a request from Hollywood studio leaders to discuss resuming contract negotiations on Friday. The meeting is the first sign of a possible end to the labor action that has brought almost all Hollywood productions to a standstill.
Read the WGA statement, obtained by TheWrap, in full below:
We have been on strike for 94 days. SAG-AFTRA joined us 21 days ago. Both our unions are striking to ensure the future of writers and performers in this business that cannot exist without us.
Every step of the way through this struggle, the AMPTP has run its tired anti-union playbook straight out of the 2007/08 strike.
We first talked to you about this in May when the AMPTP was attempting to divide and conquer labor by refusing to negotiate, and going first to the DGA and then to SAG-AFTRA to try to make deals they would then attempt to force on writers, regardless of our needs.
We know how that went.
Now, two unions are on strike and the industry is three months into a shutdown that is causing delay after delay to TV and movies. It is obviously past time for the companies to get a new playbook–one that recognizes the legitimate issues that caused these strikes and takes steps to address them.
But we have been down this road before.
Here’s what happened in 2007/08: After negotiations broke off on October 31st causing the strike, they resumed in late November only to break off for a second time in December as the strike continued. Why? Because when the companies came back to the table they weren’t serious about addressing the WGA’s proposals. They called Guild leadership “out-of-touch”. They waged a relentless campaign through the media and surrogates to spread dissent.
We won’t prejudge what’s to come. But playbooks die hard. So far, the companies have wasted months on their same failed strategy. They have attempted, time and time again, through anonymous quotes in the media, to use scare tactics, rumors and lies to weaken our resolve. Article after article has perpetuated a myth that the strike has no impact because streaming services have libraries and some product in the pipeline. Pundits quoting studio executives claim that the strike is good for the companies financially and that they will be happy to have it extend into 2024 so they can write off their losses.
This is calculated disinformation about the real impact of the ongoing strikes. We have shut down production. Union writers and actors are so essential in this industry that the companies cannot even attempt to do the work without us. It is not a viable business strategy for these companies to shut down their business for three months and counting no matter how much they try and pretend it is.
The rumors of backchannel talks were rampant this week, entirely driven by management, and only because they see it as a useful tactic. Give the town hope, soften us up, and try to use the suffering of other workers and businesses to pressure us to settle. Get us to throw away the power we have collectively accumulated and make us accept a bad deal. It is all part of the playbook. Every move they make at the bargaining table and every rumor away from it needs to be evaluated through the lens of their attempts to get us to accept less.
We’re not falling for it. Writers – screenwriters, Appendix A writers, episodic television writers, all writers – have marched together for 94 days now. We have struck to make writing a viable profession for all of us, now and in the future. We have not come all this way, and sacrificed this much, to half-save ourselves.
Therefore, we challenge the studios and AMPTP to come to the meeting they called for this Friday with a new playbook: Be willing to make a fair deal and begin to repair the damage your strikes and your business practices have caused the workers in this industry.
Until then, our fellow writers, we will see you on the lines.
WGA NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE
For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, click here.
Ross A. Lincoln contributed to this report.