Memories of the Strike
Across picket lines from Los Angeles to New York, the WGA spent 148 days on the picket line in its fight for a fair contract. Check out images and voices from the historic strike in our video, 148 Days Stronger.
Photo Credits: J.W. Hendricks, Brittany Woodside, Antonio Reinaldo, Jack Herman, Jerry Jerome, and Eric Kelly.
See Photos from Wednesday's Member Meeting at the Hollywood Palladium.
Voices of Victory
On the eve of the end of the 2023 WGA strike, Guild members discussed their reactions to hearing the news that we had won, and their reflections on the past 148 days.
“When I got the news, I was at a dinner that was thrown by my former USC thesis students, and we were all sitting around the table and eating, but really what we were doing was refresh, refresh, refresh. Somebody saw it on Deadline, and I said ‘I’m not believing it until I hear it from the Guild.’ Then there was the e-mail from the Guild. At first, I was elated and then it was just too much to process. I didn’t know whether to cry, whether to collapse, or whether to cheer, and I still don’t, except it’s beginning to sink in that we got there, that the ship got to harbor, and we won. If that doesn’t make you mist up, what will?”
“I was sitting at my kitchen table [when we got the news] midway through my hair, half twist, half afro, and everyone was like, ‘We’re going out!’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to make it. This hair is not where it needs to be.’…I felt so many things. I texted my friends, and I was like, ‘I want to scream I also kind of want to throw up and I kind of want to go outside and do a victory lap.’ It was just a rush of so many different emotions, but the primary emotion was pride, I would say…The solidarity that I have seen from other unions, the threads that tie us all together, the commonality of workers all asking to be treated fairly under this system is something that is so refreshing, so energizing and so motivating to see. I hope it’s something we continue to see as time goes on.”
“I was at a dinner party with my cookbook club, and we all kind of celebrated together because most of us are in the Guild or aspiring WGA, so it was really wonderful to sit there and get that e-mail. I felt a sense of relief that we can finally get back to work, but also that we got a lot of the things we were asking for, and just that it made the future brighter for all of us and I’m excited to see what comes out of that…My whole family worked for General Motors, so they were all UAW members. I’ve been part of a union family for a long time, and now I’m happy to be part of it, and to have gone through my first strike, and hopefully not another one for a very long time.”
“I was getting ready for Yom Kippur. I didn’t get to go out and celebrate with my comrades when we heard of the settlement but very excited that it came so quickly after the studio heads actually came to the table. When we got the settlement deal, the first thing I felt was relief and the second thing I felt was validation that we had all spent months of our summer getting our steps in, wearing our shirts, showing up for each other and that it really paid off. When I heard the deal was exquisite, it was really just another wave of serendipity, I don’t have anything except flowery adjectives to describe how great it felt.”
“I was at home and on Twitter, which is the worst place to be, but it was the best feeling to hear the words ‘tentative agreement reached.’ Those words have never warmed my heart quite like last Sunday. Our leadership, our ranks, our membership is amazing, and the deal was confirmation for me that everything that was communicated throughout the process leading up to the strike were followed through on. It was relief [to hear we had a deal], and I was also prepared to go another two months, three months or whatever it took in order to get a fair deal.”
“I was in my apartment on Sunday night I had a friend over we were watching Lord of the Rings, and then we were both too anxious, so she split, and shortly after she split, I got the e-mail letting me know that we had reached the tentative deal it was amazing. I experienced every emotion, mostly surprise, shock, exhilaration, joy, especially reading the message about what this included, and how good it all sounded…I’ll remember the solidarity, the connection between writers, our shared vision, our shared struggles. I’ve been doing this for about seven years, and for the first time, I really feel like I’m part of a community, not just an industry, not just sort of a business, but a group of people who are all aligned.”
“I was home. I got a text from one friend who had gotten an e-mail. I got the email a second later. I immediately expressed joy on Instagram, and a lot of people were like, ‘You’re the person I heard it from. I’m so excited.’ It felt good to be in that position…I’ll remember a couple of really great salads at Bob’s Big Boy thanks to Drew Carey. It’s honestly very moving how generous that was and how easy he made it just for people that were having a hard time getting by to go in and get a hot meal. He had our back, and that was really memorable for me.”
“When I got the news, I was just ending seeing Beyoncé in Houston to energize myself to get back in the fight. So it was a great capper to an already fabulous experience. I was very cautiously optimistic. I had full faith in our Negotiating Committee and zero faith in the AMPTP. I’m still processing. The optimism came through the caution. It was very exciting…I’m not from a union family. I had no exposure to unions before I got in the Guild. The Guild has fought for me before this, and I knew how much power they have and how much they stand up for us. To join all my fellow writers on the line was very heartening as an artist.”
“I was getting ready for my baby shower. I’ve been pregnant the whole strike, and I’m nine months now, so the accumulation of both things…it feels very relieving and invigorating. I’m in disbelief, but I’m so happy that we’re finally here…This was my first year in the WGA, too. So to have such an introduction of solidarity within our union and other unions, was so powerful and beautiful. Seeing our community of writers come together is really moving.”
“My wife had my phone, and she was scrolling through Postmates, and she said, ‘Mike, you’re getting some e-mails. I think you should check them.’ So I did and I read them five times, before I was like, Is this real? Did we do it?’ I just spent two days wondering what the deal points would be, and once I saw them, it was just, ‘Yeah, man, we won!.’…Writing is so lonely, but being in a union is not.”
Lights, Camera, Labor! at CSULA
Two weeks before his exhibition on the history of labor unrest in Hollywood was set to open, Cal State University, L.A. graduate student Matthew Dominguez realized he was about to get some new material.
The start of the WGA strike on May 2 sent Dominguez to the WGAW picket lines to include the 2023 strike in the “Lights, Camera, Labor!” exhibit which is currently on display in Special Collections & Archives at the University Library through the end of the year.
“I met with several strike captains and took some pictures which are in the exhibit,” Dominguez said. “The captains gave me some items to use as well. Then later when SAG-AFTRA went on strike, they gave me some buttons, stickers and a shirt as well.”
Dominguez developed the exhibition planning to focus largely on labor actions within animation, most notably the 1941 Disney Animators Strike. As his research deepened, he included other labor actions, including the 2007-08 WGA strike.
“I created the exhibit to remove the romanticized lens of Hollywood that the public usually has and to pay homage to all of those who fought for better working conditions and wages in the industry,” Dominguez said.
In his research, Dominguez noted that labor actions prior to 1950 centered largely around safe working conditions, whereas post-1950, Hollywood struck over residuals and sharing the wealth.
“Every time there is new innovation or technology, strikes happen to protect the workers and to gain some of the money that studio executives have accrued because of those new technology innovations,” Dominguez said.
He acknowledges assistance from archives at the Writers Guild Foundation and SAG-AFTRA as well as special collections at UCLA and CSUN. Tom Sito, president emeritus of The Animation Guild, allowed the use of images from his book Drawing The Lines: The Untold Story of The Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson.
“And I have to give acknowledgment to Cal State L.A. Special Collections,” he added. “This was a student-curated exhibit, so they took a chance on me, but they gave me the mentorship and the help that I needed to be able to pull this all together.”
Lost Something on the Lines? It May Be at Strike HQ
The Guild has recovered several items that have been left on the lines during the strike. If you're missing an item, you can contact the Guild's Strike Headquarters with a specific description of your item and staff will check to see if there is anything that matches it in our pile. If we find it, you can come to the Guild to pick it up and we’ll arrange parking.
After Monday, Oct. 9, all remaining items will be donated to the Salvation Army.
Here's To You, Drew
On May 19, actor-comedian Drew Carey announced he would cover the cost of meals, tip included, for card-carrying WGA members and their families at the restaurants Swingers in Hollywood and Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank for the duration of the strike. Carey’s overwhelmingly generous act of solidarity helped alleviate the financial burden many WGA members faced during the 148-day work stoppage. His kindness to writers during this difficult time will never be forgotten.
WGA members who would like to express their gratitude to Carey are invited to write him a thank you note or card which can be dropped off at Guild HQ or mailed to Guild HQ (Mr. Drew Carey, c/o WGAW, 7000 W. 3rd Street, LA, CA 90048, attention: Jennifer Burt). Notes and cards must be received at the Guild by 5 p.m. (PST) on October 9, 2023. No emails, please