After walking away from unacceptable proposals from the studios and declaring the guild’s first strike in 15 years Tuesday, the WGA felt the intense power of solidarity – from its members and from union brothers and sisters throughout the industry and the city. Thousands of striking writers and supporters flooded the picket lines at 10 studios. Together, they carried signs, chanted and were serenaded by throngs of passing cars that honked their support.
“This is the right fight, the only fight and the fight we can not afford to lose,” WGA Negotiating Committee Co-Chair Chris Keyser told the crowd during a picket outside Fox Studios. “And when you can not afford to lose, you never give up.”
“Writers used to make a very good living, and now many of them have to take a second job,” added WGA Negotiating Committee Co-Chair David A. Goodman, speaking at the Paramount picket. “Given the billions of dollars that our employees make from the product we create, that is unacceptable. All we’re asking for is a living wage for the people who create the things that our employers need.”
Given the amount of support that the Guild has received from other entertainment guilds, Goodman characterized the WGA as “the tip of the spear.” Representatives of the LA County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO at Paramount agreed with this view, praising striking WGA workers for setting a precedent that all entertainment unions should follow in upcoming negotiations.
“At the LA Fed, we say that ‘L.A. is a union town’ and we want to thank the WGA for everything they’re doing,” said Robert Nothoff, LA-Fed’s director of strategic campaigns. “All the other entertainment unions are going up against the same employer. If you do well, then everybody will do well.”
Among those walking in unity with the writers was actor Rob Lowe who joined his son and fellow “Unstable” co-creator (and WGA member) John Owen Lowe on the picket line at Paramount.
“We’re only as good as the writing we get,” said Rob Lowe. “I’ve always known that anytime I’ve been good, it’s because the writing has been good. The writers are the canaries in the coalmine of this industry. So it’s so important to support the creatives who make it happen.”
Added John Owen Lowe, “Everything we ask for is incredibly fair and overdue. What everyone on this picket line has done and will do is not easy. So they should be compensated.”
The writers on the picket line encouraged their fellow members to stay resilient and be ready to dig in for the long haul. Van Nguyen, an executive story editor walking the picket line at Paramount, dressed her poodle mix Dasher with a custom signs reading “You’re barking mad if you think we’ll settle.”
Nguyen echoed Dasher’s message to her WGA brothers and sisters: “Keep fighting and keep supporting your fellow members and we’ll get through this,” Nguyen said.
Check out photos from the picket lines.
Writers on the Line is the WGAW’s regular digest of strike events and moments. Submit your stories from the picket lines and other highlights to MBA 2023.