New York Crowd Says ‘The Entire Labor Movement Is Behind Us’ – Deadline

Check back for updates… On the second day of the Writers Guild of America’s first strike in 15 years, the guild is holding big meetings on both coasts with members to detail how they got here, what’s happening and what’s next.

The picket lines broke earlier Wednesday when the WGA East met at Cooper Union’s Great Hall in New York and the WGA West plans to meet at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The rally at the first was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, while the meeting at the second is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT. The Great Hall has a capacity of almost 1,000 people and the former Oscars venue, the Sanctuary, can accommodate around 6,000 people.

Although the Great Hall meeting took a little longer than expected to get going, the crowd was clearly excited, according to sources on site. There was loud applause from WGA members as solidarity from other guilds and unions like the IATSE was evoked. “The whole labor movement is behind us,” a WGA leader told the crowd. “The White House is behind us.

Picketers outside the WGA meeting in Manhattan

Deadline spoke to some people at the Manhattan site.

Shortly after joining the WGA, John Mahone got his first taste of the world he wants all television comedy writers like him to live and work in: he was on set, with the production he was attached to. unfolding before him. , as he wrote.

“It really informs you as a writer to have that kind of on-set experience,” Mahone said Wednesday night after walking with other striking WGA writers through Manhattan to a meeting of board members. union at Cooper Union College. “Because you can see the limits; you can see how your ideas come to life. When you’re writing in a play, on paper, it’s easy to come up with all of these ideas, but seeing them actually performed and being on set is an invaluable experience.

The loss of that experience to other, younger writers is one of the reasons why Mahone, who wrote for Our flag means death And Girls5eva, said he joined the picket line this week. He said access to productions “became a huge barrier for us”.

“Before, you were paid to cover your episode on set,” he said. “But those days are over for a few years now.”

Pickets near the WGA meeting site in New York

Sean Piccoli

Among those who turned up for Wednesday’s union members’ meeting in Manhattan was Alex Zaragoza, who joined WGA as a writer for news and culture outlet Vice and brought his membership into a career change writing for television. When the guild voted to strike, “I had just finished working on a show that wasn’t in series yet,” Zaragoza said as he handed his sign to a union representative and prepared to join in. other writers inside the Foundation building. , also known as Great Hall, at Cooper Union College for a members-only meeting closed to the press.

“I had just finished, a month before, another show that I had worked on,” Zaragoza said, “and so I was really sitting and waiting – literally sitting and waiting to see if I was going to to be able to work and try to plan what I’m going to do if I can’t work in my current field, my current profession, in television. What am I going to do to make money?

Zaragoza described her experience with WGA at Vice, where she was a union rep on the bargaining committee, as transformative.

“It was the first time I had a union job,” she said, “and the difference it made in feeling like I wasn’t lost, like you were really part of it. ‘a unit there fighting for the collective, dealing with bad managers, making sure my colleagues there got proper severance when they had to lay off – I mean so many things.

She agreed that the WGA is now asking a lot of its members, but said: “Here’s the thing: we voted for this. And we overwhelmingly voted yes because we know how important it is. It’s a lot to ask but that’s what we need: we need a fight. … Almost 100 percent of our members were prepared to take to the streets to picket, to give up those checks. Because we know that for the collective good, the greater good, for our present future, that is what is needed. As difficult as it may be, this is what must be done.

More than a month after talks began on a new three-way deal between the WGA and the Alliance of Film and Television Producers, it all came to a close on May 1 within hours of the current contract. Despite a nearly 98% strike authorization vote mandate given to guild leaders by WGA members in April, the studios have not taken the possibility of industrial action seriously or disregarded it. just didn’t really care. With the two sides far apart over money, transparency, job security, and even the role of writers in an ever-changing industry, WGA management declared a strike beginning in the early hours of 2 may.

The last time the WGA went on strike in 2007-08, industrial action lasted 100 days.

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