With contract negotiations going down to the wire, leaders of the Writers Guild of America have been laying the groundwork for a strike action on Tuesday.
“Be ready to strike Tuesday May 2. If you’ve left anything great in your office on a studio lot, consider packing it up on Monday – just in case,” said a memo sent from one of the strike captains to the others.
Picketing will take place at eight studios in three shifts a day, according to the memo. The missive recaps a meeting held by the captains on Saturday and quotes Chris Keyser — one of the three chairmen of the WGA negotiating committee.
“We know this is anxiety producing,” Keyser said in the memo. “We’re asking everyone to live in the anxiety with us for the next few days.”
The WGA held hundreds of pickets and rallies during the 2007-08 strike. Several thousand members and supporters attended a rally at Fox Plaza and a march on Hollywood Boulevard.
Negotiators for the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are resuming negotiations in a rare Sunday session with less than 48 hours before the midnight PT Monday contract expiration.
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The memo said that the deadline could be extended. “Negotiations could go for a few days after May 1 (hopefully this would mean a deal is in sight – but it might not),” it noted.
The memo also said that the specific times and locations have not been set. “The goal is to be flexible geography-wise for members,” it added.
The missive also urged recipients to invoice studios before Tuesday for any money owed.
A spokesman for the WGA West clarified the memo was not an official communication with the members, adding, “The Writers Guild has not issued any memos to members or updates on the status of negotiations.”
Here is the entire memo:
I hope you’re all doing well. There was a strike captains meeting at the Guild this AM, and I am officially reporting back.
1.) From leadership: thank you as a Guild for your amazing solidarity. The results were 96.3% “yes” on an SAV. You gave our team the best negotiating tool possible. In a time where labor is threatened in the country, it was an inspiring act of unity.
2.) There is officially no news. There is a press black-out until this round of negotiations is over.
Negotiations could go down to the wire, until the clock strikes midnight on Monday May 1.
3.) Negotiations could go for a few days after May 1 (hopefully this would mean a deal is in sight – but it might not)
4.) Be ready to strike Tuesday May 2. If you’ve left anything great in your office on a studio lot, consider packing it up on Monday – just in case.
5.) Again, be ready to strike if necessary.
6.) The Guild leadership (Chris Keyser) said, “We know this is anxiety producing. We’re asking everyone to live in the anxiety with us for the next few days.” That’s how a deal will get done.
7.) Member meetings & next steps will happen after we have a deal or May 2nd. There isn’t a schedule yet because the Guild is waiting for negotiations to wrap. (Showrunners, if you want to talk strike rules in the next few days, call Ann Farriday.)
8.) If necessary, pickets will be at 8 studios, 3 shifts per day. The goal is to be flexible geography-wise for members. Also, there are always shifts at headquarters manning phones for anyone with physical issues.
9.) INVOICE STUDIOS BEFORE TUESDAY MAY 2 FOR MONEY THEY OWE YOU!
10.) Tuesday means “pencils down” as well as “Avids off.” This year, strike rules will mean: no editing, no production, no shooting – no A-H duties.
11.) As we fight for our union, there is a May 1 Pro-Labor march planned in Los Angeles. It would be great if WGA members went and repped labor. T-shirts available now at WGA headquarters.
Hopeful note? The AMPTP took a break to go back and talk to their respective CEOs (they didn’t break off negotiations – just went to go talk to corporate bosses and will be back at the table Monday). Maybe this is good. Maybe not. We’ll know more early Tuesday AM.