WGA East President Says Strike Has Larger Degree of Support Than 2007-08: ‘We’ve Got the Numbers’

“We’ve got the forces to make them know that we’re here and that we need a deal,” Michael Winship tells TheWrap

The WGA strike has accumulated a larger degree of support than the 2007-08 writers’ strike, according to WGA East President Michael Winship, who points to the sheer “people power” present amid the work stoppage.

“Just in terms of force, of people power, we’ve just got an extraordinarily exponentially larger number of people out this time, who are fighting because they recognize the various issues that come with streaming and with these increasing amounts of using as few people as possible for as short a time as possible and paying as little as possible to make television programs,” Winship told TheWrap at the WGA pickets outside of Disney’s upfront presentation in New York. “We’re out to fix that, and I think we’ve got the numbers, I think we’ve got the forces to make them know that we’re here and that we need a deal.”

Winship, who was the president of WGA East during the last strike 15 years ago, also noted that the 2007-08 strike, though successful, never saw “the degree of support that we have from the other unions this time,” including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the American Federation of Teachers.

“That’s because they recognize the fact that this is a movement that affects all of organized labor, and all of America’s working families,” Winship continued. “What we’re fighting for sort of trickles down to what they’re fighting for and need. We’re just all working on this together.”

The New York pickets set up outside of the advertiser-centered presentation are here to remind studios the union is on strike and is “ready to come sit down [and] negotiate a deal whenever they’re willing to let us back in,” according to Winship.

“We are ready to go back to work — we are ready to go back to producing the shows that you place your ads on,” Winship said in a message directed to the studios. “We want to give the kind of quality television that allows your ads to get as many eyeballs as possible, and that gets get the ratings, get the popularity get the critical success, all of which help you.”

On Tuesday morning, the WGA sent a letter to its members regarding the cost of settling, which estimated the WGA’s proposals “would cost the industry collectively $429 million per year, approximately $343 million of which is attributable to eight of our largest employers.”

“Let’s put it this way, the annual salary of David Zaslav, year before last, was $250 million,” Winship said. “That’s about what we’re asking for when you add all our all our requests, all our asks, when you take all the things we want to get put them all together, that’s about what it is. It’s about 2% … It’s a very, very small number.”

For all of TheWrap’s WGA Strike coverage, click here.