Writers Guild Says DGA Deal Wouldn’t End Strike: ‘Era of Divide and Conquer Is Over’

“To resolve the strike, the companies will have to negotiate with the WGA on our full agenda,” the negotiating committee says in an email to members

Strikers in front of Paramount Pictures (Photo credit: Raquel "Rocky" Harris of TheWrap)
Strikers in front of Paramount Pictures (Photo: Raquel "Rocky" Harris/TheWrap)

The Writers Guild of America has assured members in a memo that a potential agreement between Hollywood’s studios and the Directors Guild of America will not break their strike, saying that solidarity between the entertainment unions will safeguard against it and that the “era of divide and conquer is over.”

“Our position is clear,” the guild wrote. “To resolve the strike, the companies will have to negotiate with the WGA on our full agenda.”

In a memo posted to the WGA’s contract website, the guild’s negotiating team pointed to the conclusion of the last writers strike in 2008, as the DGA reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that became the pattern upon which the AMPTP set its deal with the WGA.

“During the last WGA strike, SAG was supportive but relations with some of the other unions were strained. While writers were out on picket lines, the DGA negotiated its own deal far ahead of its contract expiration, which included some (but not all) of the goals writers sought,” read the memo.

“The AMPTP set a strategy in motion designed to be a repeat of 2007/08. Divide and conquer. Hold off a deal with the DGA until after the WGA contract expiration date so that in the event of a writers’ strike the AMPTP could force a DGA pattern on the WGA. Even better if they could also sew up a deal with SAG-AFTRA. They would then claim that the writers were being unreasonable,” the memo continued.

This time, however, the WGA argues that the outcome will be different, saying that using pattern bargaining to set the upper limits of which is on offer from studios to unions “only works if unions are divided.” On Wednesday, the WGA released a joint statement with other Hollywood unions, including SAG-AFTRA and IATSE, supporting the DGA as it enters the final days of talks before the AMPTP is scheduled to pivot to negotiations with SAG-AFTRA on June 7.

While there are some elements of the DGA’s potential contract that could be applied through pattern bargaining to a contract with the WGA, such as the rate of minimum and residual increases, the biggest sticking points between the Writers Guild and AMPTP are on issues that are specific to writers, such as proposed rules to curb the abuse of mini-rooms.

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