A decade ago, Writers Guild of America members expertly used online communication tools to educate themselves on issues and organize strike efforts. Back then, in late 2007 and early 2008, the state of the art was pretty much blogs, email, and YouTube videos.
This time around, as the guild faces another round of contentious master film and TV contract talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, there are a host of instantaneous and connected communications platforms that make the blogs of 2007-2008 — United Hollywood being the most prominent — look like Model T Fords. Facebook and Twitter were still in their infancy in 2007 when the guild’s organizing campaign went into high gear. The iPhone had just been introduced, while Instagram and Snapchat hadn’t been born yet.
For the first time since 2007, the WGA is preparing to conduct a strike authorization vote among members later this month as the clock ticks down to the May 1 expiration of the current contract. Contract talks that ended March 23 after two weeks are set to resume April 10.
The guild has released a slew of statistics to bolster the case that many writers are finding themselves working longer for less money, despite the overall growth in jobs for TV writers in the Peak TV moment. In this environment it’s no surprise that discussion of the contract issues and rallying efforts for the strike authorization vote are starting to swell on social media, some using the hashtags #WGA and #WhyWeFight.
WGA West president Howard A. Rodman offered a clear message via Twitter on Monday.
A thoughtful essay posted on Medium by writer Angelina Burnett (“Halt and Catch Fire,” “The Americans”), a guild member who was just starting her career at the time of the 2007-08 strike, on the need to support the strike authorization vote got a lot of circulation on Monday.
“To be clear, the vote before us is not a choice between strike, and no strike. It is a choice between empowering our leadership with the threat, and rendering them inert,” Burnett wrote. “The hope is that the threat is enough to inspire movement from the AMPTP. Will it? I don’t know. But the more members who vote to authorize, the more powerful the threat. A ‘No’ vote tells the AMPTP you’ll take what ever they’re willing to give.”