Writers Guild of America Authorize a Strike: What Comes Next?

Story posted April 25, 2023 in CommRadio, News by McKenna Wall

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The workforce is changing for upcoming writers. With contract renewals approaching, members of the Writers Guild of America have approved a strike.

In an article in the New York Times, in 2017, 96% of writers voted in favor of a strike. An agreement was made in the final moments of that negotiation so a strike did not occur.

Today, according to the unions cited in the New York Times, over 9,000 writers voted for a strike authorization (98% of the vote).

Student Film Organization President, Joseph Molloy (senior, film production), who said he hopes to enter the WGA in the future, shared his thoughts.

“It’s definitely good because collective action is always important, whatever industry you’re in,” Molloy said.

The writers’ contract expires on May 1. If an agreement is not made before that date, it’s likely that Los Angeles will face its first WGA strike in 15 years, according to an article in the New York Times.

Only this time, it would come in an industry where streaming dominates.

“Streaming has definitely been a bigger problem…a lot of the payment from residuals, which used to keep younger writers afloat, is now a lot less or it’s harder to pay out,” Molloy said.

The last WGA strike came in 2007-08, when the Los Angeles, California economy took an approximately $2.1 billion hit as a result of the 100-day strike, according to an article in the New York Times.

Molloy said that the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) contract renewals are also coming up.

“If all three end up striking, that’s gonna definitely hit the industry… as someone who’s about to enter the workforce, it’s gonna be nearly impossible to get a job,” Molloy said.

On Instagram, WGA members are sharing their experiences via a series titled “My Union, My Story” (@writersguildwest).

Tian Jun Gu is a television writer who was featured in one of these Instagram clips. Gu, who joined the WGA in 2015, said in the video that finding jobs is different for writers today.

“Just the amount of free work that you have to do on the TV development side, just to secure the job, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re gonna pay you a check for it, but to even be considered for the project,” Gu said (@writersguildwest).

McKenna Wall is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email mew6140@psu.edu.