punching up

WGA Pickets Get Smoked Out for a Little While

Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Welcome to Vulture’s Strike Recap, or Strike-cap, if you will, a regular rundown of all the biggest news from the WGA picket lines.

This week, New York City got smoked out … in a very bad, extremely toxic way by Canada of all places. This cloud of Canadian crud descended on the city in full force on June 7, shutting down Broadway shows, office buildings, and the WGA-East picket lines. Luckily, there were also some bright spots in the literal and metaphorical dark cloud that descended briefly upon the strike this week, so put on your needed-now-more-than-ever N95 mask and let’s peer through the haze at what’s going on with the WGA strike this week.

SAG Said Yes

It was pretty much expected, but after the DGA agreed to a deal with the studios in the middle of the night over the weekend, a pall was cast over the SAG strike-authorization vote. Would the members who had yet to vote change their minds when they saw the Directors Guild shaking hands with the studios? But the Screen Actors Guild voted 97.91 percent in favor of authorizing a strike. This means the option is now on the table should negotiations with the studio fall apart. The tension, it’s palpable!

The Strike Main Character Award (Bad)

NYC’s bad air has made being outside dangerous, so all WGA-East pickets are canceled for the rest of the week. While the fact of the smoke isn’t inherently anti-labor, the forces of global industry that created the conditions for it definitely are!

Spotted: Native and Indigenous Writers Picketing on the West Coast

While New Yorkers sheltered from the plumes of smoke being spewed forth by our angry, dying planet, WGA members on the West Coast picketed, specifically highlighting Native and Indigenous writers. It looked nice!

The Strike Main Character Award (Good)

For once, an older man is complaining about how things were better back in his day, but get this! He’s directing his anger at the source of the problem rather than the kids today. Norman Lear tweeted a thread explaining the deterioration of writers’ status, compensation, and respect in Hollywood over his 101 years of life. “I wrote in the very first year of television, when writers were revered. I now watch talented writers struggle to earn a living wage without the path to a career like mine,” he wrote. “I stand with writers and with the Writers Guild of America, my union. The industry is stronger when we stand together to protect our collective community.” Not a surprise that Mr. Issue-Laden-Comedy is pro-labor, but still lovely to see.

Pro-SAG Memes

Strike Veterans Offer Perspective

In between picketing and negotiations, a few industry voices told us how the strike feels now compared to the one-month mark during 2007’s strike. 

Billy Ray

Screenwriter and WGA member since 1988 

How’s the turnout on the picket lines one month in?
I only picket at the Fox lot because it has the best parking. These things matter in L.A. That’s where I picketed in ’07 and ’08 as well. The turnout feels the same, but the picketers this time around seem to have a much better grasp of what the strike is about and why it is so urgently necessary. Sixteen years ago, everyone knew we had to have jurisdiction over streaming, but no one had any idea what that meant. Now, EVERYONE knows what’s at stake: Our very existence as a profession.

Damon Lindelof

Showrunner and WGA member since 1998

Is there more a feeling of unity now than in 2007 with SAG and DGA?
I am feeling unity with SAG and IATSE as their members are regularly on the sidelines. It feels like their support is authentic … and I hope they have more leverage for a fair deal based on our collective power. It’s swell that DGA is happy with the deal they got, and I hope they remain true to their word that they support our efforts to get a fair deal for our members as well.

Rob LaZebnik

Writer, producer, and WGA member since 1984

How has social media impacted organizing for the 2023 strike? What other changes have felt significant between 2007 and now?
You can’t overstate the impact social media has had on this strike. My feed is filled with stories and pictures from the picketing that day, including themed pickets like Pride, Latinx, veterans, Greta Gerwig Appreciation Day, etc. Twitter and Instagram are also where writers are telling their tales of terrible gig-economy treatment by the studios. It’s all been bonding and inspirational. Most important, it’s how we find out what food will be at the sites. Right now, I’m off to Fox, where someone has paid for a poutine truck.

Another Strike Missed Connection

The strike stays horny. Despite the WGA Strike Missed Connections account almost immediately tripping into transphobia, people are still looking for love (and solidarity) on the picket lines. If you have any information connecting this neutral gate observer and their workout pal, let everybody know!

Do you have a story tip or interesting bit of writers-strike updates to share? Drop us a line at tips@vulture.com.

WGA Pickets Get Smoked Out for a Little While