The Writers Guild of America doesn’t want to strike, but if it has to, it will. That’s the emphasis of the Guild’s latest video featuring WGA West board member and bojack horseman Producer Raphael Bob-Waksberg discusses the history of the guild benefits by standing firm at the bargaining table – and going on strike if all else fails.
“I want to be very clear,” he says in a video posted Tuesday on the WGA website. “A strike is not a guaranteed outcome for this year’s negotiations. And we don’t want one. We want fair pay for companies making a product that makes massive profits. And we want protections like that.” Which allow us to build a stable career and a stable life.
The studios, he said, “would love to portray us as irrational for wanting these most basic things. They want us to forget the gains we make when we stand together, and instead But consider what might be hurting us by standing up. A better question to ask is: What does it cost us when we don’t?”
The WGA is now in the final weeks of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers before the May 1 expiration of its current contract.
“In tough negotiations, with a powerful group of companies, you don’t win an advantage by playing nice, or knowing the right people, or with an extra-firm handshake,” says Bob-Waksberg. “No. What you’re able to win is directly related to how much leverage you have. And just like when you’re negotiating your individual contract as a writer, with a union Our leverage as such depends on our willingness to walk away from a bad deal.”
“We’d love it if the studios met our reasonable demands, agreed to a fair deal, and we could all do what we do best: making art,” he said, but noted that given that “it is our willingness to use our collective strength.” As union members who have repeatedly secured benefits for writers. The strikes got us our scraps. The strikes got us our pension and health funds. And when I say ‘got them,’ I mean we didn’t have them because the studios didn’t want to give us them, so writers were forced to stop their labor and go on strike to get them. .
Watch the full video here.
Referring to the WGA’s 100-day strike of 2007–08, he said: “Some people believe the strike was a failure, a vague and fruitless campaign to win DVD residuals, or whatever. The truth is that Through the strike, the WGA won jurisdiction over the Internet, or what we now call streaming.
In 2007 he said, “Studios were doing our work online. They were streaming full episodes of television with commercials. They were selling episodes and movies on iTunes. They were taking advantage of our work on the Internet. The position of our union at that time was, ‘You should pay us for that.’ And the position of the studios was, ‘No.’ Now try to imagine where we would have been if we had accepted that ‘no’.”
“Think about what TV and film look like on the internet now — try to put it in your head, every streaming show and movie out there,” he said, ranting off dozens of popular shows and movies. “Imagine if every single one of these was made without WGA coverage. Half of all employment for current series writers is in streaming. Entire writing career, most of my career, and I bet a good portion of yours. . Imagine that none of this was automatically protected under the guild contract. Imagine all that work done without the WGA-guaranteed minimum, residuals, or contributions to our pension and health funds.
“Relics of projects made for streaming, as a category, are the fastest growing single type that Guild collects. The residuals that we got at strike and have improved every three years since then, grow to $78 million in 2022. But before the strike, studios were offering zero.
“Imagine what life would be like for today’s writers if the writers of the time hadn’t backed out of that bad deal. But he did. Writers stopped working for a little over three months and secured a future for writers like me. And because of our fight, SAG-AFTRA and the DGA were able to get streaming coverage for their members as well.
“In that action, we showed our strength. And ten years later we did it again. In 2017 negotiations, the studio wanted to reduce the Guild’s health fund, cutting $10 million in the first year alone. This would have resulted in a major cut in benefits – union members were kicked out of their health plans, and our pay was cut to pay for the difference. This was not a hypothetical worst-case scenario. This was their best and last offer as the contract deadline approached.
“So how did we stop them? Through sound, moral reasoning and appeals to their better angels? No, we stopped them by reminding them of our power. We took a strike authorization vote in which we showed the strength of our solidarity by voting ‘yes’ in 96% of the ballots re-cast.
“With our credible threat of strike, we were able to get back into the room, protect our health plan, and set a standard of span safety in our MBA – another important victory they didn’t want to give us. , without going on strike.”
Earlier this month, WGA members voted 97.85% in favor of authorizing a strike if their leaders cannot reach a fair deal at the bargaining table.