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New York picket lines: Quality over quantity

At Gotham’s Warner Center, Writers Guild of America East picket lines were composed of maybe 50 people on Wednesday. Whatever they lacked in quantity, picketers made up for in diversity with members of Actors Equity Association, SAG, AFTRA and even the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (a fellow AFL-CIO affiliate with the WGAE). Multihyphenate Tim Robbins and thesp David Hyde Pierce marched alongside picketers, and Hyde Pierce brandished a SAG sign.

“What do we want?” chanted the leader.

“A FAIR DEAL!”

“When do we want it?”

“NOW!”

Writers and supporters carried placards with variations on the “We just want our fair share” theme; one mostly white sign said in small print, “Blank ‘til we get a contract.” At least one tambourine circulated around the line.

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” said Robbins. “This isn’t a strike of millionaire screenwriters; this is about rank and file, about people who are trying to pay their mortgages and feed their children.”

Robbins worried that the media would further gravitate toward the internet, resulting not just in a lack of WGA web residuals, but in all residuals.

“I’m here because I hate strikes,” said Hyde Pierce. “I hate that it’s come to this.”

Hyde Pierce said that the relatively small income studios receive from new media isn’t really the issue for him. “It doesn’t matter whether or not the amount is significant,” he said. “You can get a residual check in the mail for less than the postage. I think there’s a formula for sharing the profits.”

— Sam Thielman

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