Writers Worldwide Show Support for WGA Strike

Guild leaders spoke to members at the Disney lot as solidarity rallies were held in more than 30 countries

Meredith Stiehm WGA strike
WGA official Meredith Stiehm speaks at the picket lines in front of the Disney backlot in Burbank in June.

As the Hollywood writers’ strike enter its seventh week, the Writers Guild of America held an international day of solidarity called “Screenwriters Everywhere” on Tuesday, partnering with other unions around the world to demand better wages from studios.

Members of writers’ unions affiliated with the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE), International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG), UNI Global Union (UNI-MEI), as well as other supporters and workers held rallies in more than 30 countries to show their support for the ongoing WGA strike while WGA West President Meredith Stiehm and members of the WGA negotiating committee spoke at the picket lines in front of the Walt Disney Pictures backlot in Burbank and the Netflix production space in Hollywood.

At the Disney picket line, Stiehm said that she and other members of the WGA leadership traveled to Copenhagen last fall where they met with members of writer unions in countries ranging from Great Britain to Australia and who have pledged to refuse any efforts by studios to hire overseas writers during the strike.

“One way the studios try to scare writers during a strike is to say, ‘Well, we’ll just hire international writers.’ But that’s not going to happen, because we have solidarity among writers across the globe,” said Stiehm said.

Overseas unions have used the hashtag #ScreenwritersEverywhere to post photos of solidarity rallies around the world, including in England where prominent names like “Black Mirror” creator Charlie Brooker and “Doctor Who” showrunner Russell T. Davies marched in solidarity with members of the Writers Guild of Great Britain in London.

FSE president Carolin Otto praised the WGA for their organizing and declared in a statement that “their fight is our fight.”

“Screenwriters in Europe are in awe of the organization, determination and solidarity of our friends and colleagues in the Writers Guilds of America, East and West, in their fight to defend and protect their profession from the sustained assaults they are currently facing,” Otto said. “We are all too familiar with the attacks that threaten to make a career as a screenwriter unsustainable. In Europe, and across the globe, screenwriters are exploited for their commitment to their work.”

At the Disney picket line, Stiehm was joined by British writer-producer Alex Cary, whose credits include the Emmy-winning series “Homeland.” He shared a story of an unnamed project he worked on in the UK last year in which he had to fight the studio producing it to keep them from moving the shoot to continental Europe.

“They were not only stealing jobs from our crew, they were offering double the price in Europe, so we knew they had the money,” Cary said. “The money they were offering those crews would dwarf — to use a Disney term — the money we’re asking for now.”

Cary also called on the members of the WGA who are “in the upper tax bracket” to show more leadership and to stand up for the members of the guild who serve as staff writers for their projects.

“Those are the people that the studios want to collaborate with because those are the creators that are making them money,” Cary said. “And we, the upper tax bracket people of which I am on the bottom end but lucky to be in, make our money off of your backs as much as they do. This is about leadership.”

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