Strike Rules FAQ
TIMINGScroll to Top
When does the current MBA expire?
The current MBA expires at midnight Pacific Time on May 1, 2023.
If there is a strike, when would it start?
A strike could start as early as 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, May 2. Guild members would be notified of a strike’s start date as soon as a decision is made. As always, members should be very wary of rumors about a possible strike, including its timing, and rely only on official Guild communications.
Bookmark WGA Contract 2023 for the most up-to-date information from the Guild. Stay connected by following the Guild's official social media accounts: WGAW Twitter, Facebook, Instagram | WGAE Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
I’ve heard from reps and execs that the Guild will extend the contract through June or July. Is that true?
No. There are no plans to extend the deadline. Unless you hear it directly from the WGA, you should assume that the rumor is nothing more than that.
I’ve been commenced on a step but haven’t delivered. Am I required to deliver before the MBA expires on May 1, 2023?
No, the MBA’s expiration on May 1 does not require you to deliver before then. But if you have not completed your step by May 1 and the Guild calls a strike the following day, it’s pencils down until we come to terms on a new MBA. You should deliver before May 1 if you have completed the step or if you must do so to comply with the writing period in your contract.
STRIKE RULES & MEMBER OBLIGATIONS DURING A STRIKEScroll to Top
Where can I read the Strike Rules?
The WGAW Board and WGAE Council have adopted Strike Rules that describe in detail members’ obligations in the event of a work stoppage. The Strike Rules can be viewed here.
What are writers prohibited from doing during a strike?
In general, a strike means that no writing services—including pitching and development, or those duties described in the MBA as (a)-(h) writing services—may be performed for a struck company by a Guild member. Guild staff in the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 are available to answer questions members may have about the Strike Rules.
You must honor all Guild picket lines and may not enter the premises of any struck company. This rule also prohibits you from participating remotely in any writing room or other electronic communications hosted or administered by a struck company.
If you are a hyphenate, click here for more information.
If you are a WGA member working under a WGA collective bargaining agreement for (i) News, (ii) Online Media & Podcasts, or (iii) Podcasts, Nonfiction Television, Public Television, click here for more information.
What are the Rule 3 and 4 Notices—and is there a form I can use?
Rule 3 requires WGA members to notify their representatives to cease negotiations on their behalf until a strike concludes. We have a form Rule 3 Notice members can fill in and send from this platform, available here.
Rule 4 requires members to notify struck companies to return or delete writer-owned “spec” literary material or sample scripts. We have a form Rule 4 Notice members can fill in and send from this platform, available here.
What’s a “struck company”?
A “struck company” is a company that was signatory to the 2020 MBA. Contact the Signatories Department to inquire if a company is struck. But remember: Working Rule 8 at all times prohibits members from working for non-signatory companies. This means that during a strike, Guild members cannot perform writing services (or option/sell literary material) in any market covered by the MBA (feature motion pictures, television and new media).
How do the Strike Rules apply to producers?
Producers are treated as representatives of struck companies under the Strike Rules.
Rule 1 prohibits WGA members from attending meetings, or engaging in conversations as a writer concerning new, pending or future projects or writing assignments with producers.
How can writers give the greatest leverage possible during a strike to get the best deal possible in the shortest amount of time?
Follow the Strike Rules, and do everything you can to deprive the studios of your talent and services. Demonstrate solidarity with fellow writers by supporting the bargaining agenda on social media, picketing and attending meetings and rallies and other Guild actions. More details about how members can pressure the companies to make a fair deal will be communicated if a strike is called.
If you need guidance, talk to your captain, a Guild leader or Guild staff. Please contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 if you need legal advice.
What are the consequences if a member breaks the Strike Rules?
Members are expected to comply with the Strike Rules. That is the duty we all owe each other as members of the Guilds, and it is critical all members follow the Strike Rules to make sure the strike is as effective (and short) as possible and our Negotiating Committee has the greatest leverage possible to win a fair deal.
Violations of the Strike Rules are very rare in WGA strikes. However, in the event the Strike Rules Compliance Committee has reason to believe a member has violated the Strike Rules the Committee can recommend disciplinary action under the WGAW or WGAE Constitutions. A member accused of breaking the Strike Rules has a right to a hearing before a Trial Committee, which can recommend discipline to the Board or Council if they find a member has broken a Strike Rule. Possible discipline includes monetary fines and other consequences up to expulsion from Guild membership.
Are there any circumstances under which I can render writing services for a struck company during a strike?
No. A member cannot render writing services for a struck company during a strike under any circumstances.
What are (a)-(h) writing services? Can Guild members perform (a)-(h) writing during a strike?
The functions defined in the MBA as (a)-(h) are writing services, which can under certain circumstances be performed by individuals not employed as writers. In the event of a strike, Guild members—even if employed in a non-writing capacity—are prohibited from performing (a)-(h) writing (as well as all other writing services). Thus, a Guild member employed as a writer-producer on a series cannot perform (a)-(h) services during a strike by saying the work is being done in a “producer” capacity. (a)-(h) is writing and encompasses almost everything a writer-producer might do during production and post.
For reference, the MBA defines (a)-(h) writing services as follows:
- Cutting for time;
- Bridging material necessitated by cutting for time;
- Changes in technical or stage directions;
- Assignment of lines to other existing characters occasioned by cast changes;
- Changes necessary to obtain continuity acceptance or legal clearance;
- Casual minor adjustments in dialogue or narration made prior to or during the period of principal photography;
- Such changes in the course of production as are made necessary by unforeseen contingencies (e.g., the elements, accidents to performers, etc.); and
- Instructions, directions, or suggestions, whether oral or written, made to a writer regarding story or screenplay.
A-h services include making any changes, no matter how minor, to the script. This can happen during development, production or post and includes adding dialogue, cutting or adding material, making changes to technical directions, switching lines around, or suggesting changes to material to be made by others. The MBA defines this work as writing, and the Strike Rules prevent members from doing it on projects where they are employed as writers.
On set, you might hear an actor read a line that’s not working, so you give him a better one. That’s a-h. Or if you come up with dialogue in ADR to enhance a scene. Or you cut material to make the episode shorter. During a shoot, when day becomes night, you lose a location, shooting constraints require a change in blocking that affects the scene—you can't make any change in the script that addresses what will be an obvious incongruity, because to change it is to write. All of these examples are a-h writing and are violations.
I understand I can’t perform writing services during a strike, but can I still produce?
Guild members are prohibited from performing any writing services during a strike, including making changes or revisions to literary material (including cutting and pasting from already written drafts), as well as (a)-(h) services, such as cutting for time (which often happens in the editing bay during post), or adjusting dialogue during principal photography. The Guild can’t require members not to perform purely producing functions, but members are encouraged to refuse to perform any work for struck studios to assist the strike effort. If you have further questions, please contact WGAW Member Organizing or Michelle Kuchinsky in the WGAE Film, TV, and Streaming Sector.
Do the Strike Rules apply to showrunners and other writer-producers?
Yes. Showrunners and writer-producers, like every other member of the Guild, must follow the Strike Rules. The Strike Rules prohibit showrunners—or any other members—from performing writing during production and post-production, including (a)-(h) writing services. In 2007-08, many showrunners went farther than that and refused to perform any services for struck companies during the strike. For showrunner-related questions or concerns, please contact Ann Farriday in WGAW Member Organizing or Michelle Kuchinsky in the WGAE Film, TV, and Streaming Sector.
What if there’s a strike and I am asked to cover set?
“Covering set” almost always involves some type of writing, whether it’s doing a production rewrite, punch-up, or (a)-(h) writing services (which includes changes in technical or stage directions or adjustments in dialogue—however minor). The Strike Rules prohibit members from performing any of those writing functions during a strike.
I received a letter from the studio telling me I have to get back to work on my show. The letter says I have to keep producing and it also says I have to keep performing a-h duties during the strike. What should I do?
These letters are an intimidation tactic and a studio attempt to undermine the power and effect of the strike.
Some of the letters claim that a-h services aren’t writing, even though you were hired by the studio as a writer. This is wrong. The MBA is explicit in providing that a-h services when done by a writer are writing. Under the Strike Rules, performing a-h services during the strike is a violation.
While the Guild can’t require members not to perform purely producing functions, many members are making the choice to refuse to perform any work for struck studios to assist the strike effort and some are even going public with that decision. Many writers believe that it is impossible to perform any other services without also engaging their writer brain. If you have further questions, please contact WGAW Member Organizing or Michelle Kuchinsky in the WGAE Film, TV, and Streaming Sector.
I’m a showrunner or a writer-producer, and the studio has terminated my contract. What now?
Please reach out to the WGAW Legal Department for West members and the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 for East members with your agreement and the communications from the studio, so that we may review and advise you.
Do the Strike Rules apply to writer-directors and writer-performers?
Yes. These members also must follow the Strike Rules, which prohibit performing any writing services during a strike including a-h (see above).
Can I direct during the strike?
The Guilds can’t prohibit you from directing under the DGA agreement. But as a director, you can’t rewrite or polish the script or perform other writing services, or perform a-h (see above) even if you are not hired on the project as a writer.
Can I perform during the strike?
The Guilds can’t prohibit you from performing under the SAG-AFTRA agreement. But as an actor or performer, you can’t write any of your or others’ lines, even if you are not hired on the project as a writer.
Members can’t write, even if also employed in the capacity of a performer.
Can I write for a non-signatory foreign producer? What about a job falling under WGC jurisdiction?
No, you cannot write for a non-signatory foreign producer. Guild Working Rule 8 prohibits members from working for non-signatory companies. This rule applies at all times but is particularly important during a strike because of the potential that a non-signatory producer could be used as a subterfuge to have work performed for a struck company.
During a strike, all Canadian waiver agreements are terminated, and therefore you are not permitted to continue writing on such projects during a strike.
We encourage writers to call us with the particulars of their situation so we can assess whether they are in danger of engaging in strike-breaking activity. Please contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844.
Can I pitch during a strike?
No, you cannot pitch during a strike.
Can I take a general meeting during a strike?
Can I write a spec script during a strike?
You can write a spec script during a strike, but neither you nor your reps can shop, option, or sell the spec script, or take any action to further the future option or sale of the spec script, including developing the script with a producer, or attaching talent or other elements to the project.
Can my producing POD take a meeting, pitch, acquire literary material or do any of the things I as a member can’t do during the strike?
Can I enter into an option agreement during a strike? If an option on literary material expires during a strike, can I negotiate an extension of the option?
No, you may not negotiate with a struck company for option or sale of literary material, including an extension of an option agreement that predates a strike.
I have a script under option—what happens if the company exercises its right to purchase the script during a strike?
You can accept payment from a struck company if the company is exercising its right to purchase literary material under terms that were fully negotiated prior to a strike. You cannot perform any writing services on the optioned or purchased literary material during a strike.
If I delivered literary material I was hired to write prior to a strike, can I accept payment for delivery during a strike?
Yes, you can accept payment for writing services performed prior to a strike. Similarly, if you were commenced on a script prior to a strike, you may accept payment for commencement, but you are prohibited from continuing to write during a strike.
If I sell a pilot prior to a strike, can I meet with the creative exec to discuss creative direction for the show so we can be ready to start writing once the strike ends?
No. You should let the Company know you are prohibited from discussing work until the strike concludes.
My company wants me to give an interview on TV, on a podcast, on radio, or in print to promote a film or show I wrote on. Can I do that?
No. You should let the company know you are prohibited from making promotional appearances at their request until the strike concludes.
Can I promote my project at an event at the company’s request, like a “For Your Consideration” event about the film or show I wrote on?
No. You should let the Company know you are prohibited from making these promotional appearances about your work until the strike concludes.
Can I promote my project on social media?
You must refuse promoting a project at a struck company’s request. However, it is not a violation to talk about your projects on your own accord on your own social media.
Can I promote my project at Comic-Con?
Can I attend Comic-Con?
We’re asking you not to participate in events sponsored by the companies we’re striking against.
Can I participate in a film festival to promote or get distribution for the film I wrote?
Can I self-produce or premiere my self-produced film during the strike?
Can I participate as a writer in a fellowship program?
Not all fellowship programs are the same. Any program involving employment by a struck company would be a violation of the Strike Rules. We are also requiring members to avoid writing programs sponsored by struck companies or their affiliates during the strike so that these programs can’t be used by them to access or develop literary material by members. If you have a question about a particular program, please contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844.
REPRESENTATIVESScroll to Top
Do I need to advise my reps about how the Strike Rules affect their representation of me during a strike?
Yes. Members are required to send the following notice to their representative(s) as soon as a strike is called.
“On ______, 2023, following a vote by the membership of the Writers Guild of America, the WGA issued a strike order against various companies in the motion picture, television and new media industry. You are immediately instructed to engage in no further negotiations, meetings or discussions with any struck company concerning my performance of writing services on future or pending projects, or for the sale or option of literary material I have written, alone or with a writing partner. I hereby revoke your authority to engage in any of the foregoing activities until the WGA withdraws the strike order.”
The Guild has sent the Strike Rules to representatives and is available to answer any questions representatives may have.
What are the obligations of franchised agencies during a strike?
The franchise agreement prohibits agents from encouraging violations of the Strike Rules. Representation contracts can be terminated if the agent, during a strike, obtains employment (or options/sells literary material) for any Guild writer with a struck company.
During a strike, can my rep procure WGA-covered work for me if it’s understood that the job won’t start until there’s agreement on a new MBA?
No. You are in breach of the Strike Rules if your rep procures WGA-covered work for you during a strike.
Can my rep submit my work to studios during a strike? What about to producers who are not signatory to the MBA?
The answer to both questions is NO. If your rep submits your work to studios or producers during a strike you would be in violation of a strike rule. Inform your reps that you are on strike and let them know they cannot try to get you meetings or submit material during a strike.
If your agents attempt to do so, they are also in violation of the franchise agreement.
Please contact the WGAW Agency Department to report any rep who is encouraging writers to violate the Strike Rules.
Can my rep set up general meetings for me during a strike?
No. If your agents attempt to do so, they are in violation of the franchise agreement.
Please contact the WGAW Agency Department to report any rep who is encouraging writers to violate the Strike Rules.
If at the time a strike is called, my rep is in the middle of negotiating a deal for me, can my rep finish negotiating the deal?
No, your rep cannot continue to negotiate a deal for you once a strike commences. Your rep can resume negotiations once a strike concludes.
What if my rep is just redlining a long-form contract? Can the rep continue doing that?
No, redlining a long-form contract is negotiating the terms of your employment with the studio (or the option/purchase of your literary material). Your rep cannot do this during a strike.
Can I sign with an agency, management company, or lawyer during a strike?
There’s nothing prohibiting a member from signing with a rep during a strike. But reps cannot submit your literary material to struck companies, set up meetings for you with struck companies, procure MBA-covered employment for you, etc. during a strike.
If there’s a strike, and my rep encourages me to break the Strike Rules, what should I do?
You should tell your rep that you will not break the Strike Rules and that you support the Guild.
You should also report your rep to the WGAW Agency Department (323) 782-4502. Agents are in violation of the franchise agreement if they encourage a member to violate Guild rules.
Will the Guilds educate reps about the Strike Rules?
Yes, the Guilds will communicate the Strike Rules to all reps—agents, managers, attorneys—and let them know Guild staff are available to field any questions they may have.
If a rep tells you they have questions about the Strike Rules, please encourage them to contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844.
IMPACTS OF STRIKE ON MEMBERSScroll to Top
Will I be held liable for breach of contract for going on strike?
The MBA provides that both the writer’s and company’s obligations under existing employment contracts are suspended during a strike and the writer may not be held liable for breach of contract for observing a strike if the member performs their contractual obligations after a strike concludes. Please contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 if you need guidance.
If there’s a strike, will the company terminate my writing agreement or overall deal?
The company’s right to terminate will normally depend on the language of the writer’s individual agreement or overall deal. If the writer’s individual agreement has a force majeure provision identifying a strike/work stoppage as a ground for termination, the Company may be able to exercise its right of termination. Because contract language varies widely and other factors may affect the Company’s rights, please reach out to the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 so we can advise you.
What will happen to my show if there’s a strike—will it resume after the strike is over or will it be cancelled?
It is up to the companies whether to continue production of a show that is interrupted by a strike.
RESOURCES/SUPPORT FOR MEMBERS DURING A STRIKEScroll to Top
How can the Guild help writers who may suffer economic hardship during a strike?
The Guilds have Strike Funds, which are administered by committees of members and can provide no-interest or low-interest loans (depending on the repayment plan) to members who need financial assistance because of a strike. WGAW Strike Fund loan criteria and application can be found here. WGAE Strike Fund loan criteria can be found here.
There is also a Good and Welfare Fund that has different criteria and can also assist WGAW members in need. Good and Welfare Fund criteria can be found here. WGAE members who have Union Plus credit cards may be eligible for strike grants or premium deferrals if covered by Union Plus Auto, Life or Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance.
The Entertainment Community Fund’s Emergency Assistance Program also provides temporary financial assistance to entertainment industry workers with documented financial need.
HEALTH INSURANCEScroll to Top
I’ll lose my health insurance if I don’t have earnings in the next quarter or two. Will my health insurance be extended? If not, what help can the Guild provide?
There is no Health Fund requirement that the Health Plan extend health insurance coverage during a strike, and Trustees are 50% management and 50% Guild.
If you fall out of coverage during a strike, extended benefits may be available under COBRA.
We understand that COBRA premiums are expensive and may not be a viable option for all members. (Please note, however, that Strike Fund monies can be used to pay COBRA premiums.)
Members who are New York State residents may be eligible for COBRA payment assistance through the COBRA Premium Assistance Program for Entertainment Industry Employees. Please contact the WGAE Legal Department or (212) 767-7844 for more information.
As an alternative to COBRA, members who fall out of coverage can purchase health insurance through Covered California or other health insurance exchange. Entertainment Health Insurance Solutions—a joint program of the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund) and the Motion Picture & Television Fund—is available to assist you in finding a health care plan. Click here to initiate your request for EHIS’ assistance in finding health insurance.
If you need financial assistance paying premiums for health insurance during a strike, the WGAW Strike Fund and Good & Welfare Fund, and WGAE Strike Fund, may be able to help by providing a loan at no-interest or low-interest depending on the repayment plan.
The Entertainment Community Fund’s Emergency Assistance Program also provides temporary financial assistance to entertainment industry workers with documented financial need.
Are P&H benefits suspended during a strike?
No. Health coverage and pension payouts are not suspended because of a strike. This includes WGA Paid Parental Leave as well.
ANIMATIONScroll to Top
How can members support a strike if they are writing on a TAG (a/k/a “IATSE” or “Local 839”) show?
We welcome any TAG members on our picket lines and to post messages of solidarity on social media.
The Guild can’t prohibit individuals from working under a TAG Agreement, nor are we asking TAG members to walk off TAG projects.
Any animation writing that is covered by the MBA is prohibited during a strike.
What about developing an animated series?
Both WGA and TAG represent writers of animated series. Before a project is sold, the determination of which Guild covers the project is often not yet resolved. You can tell the company you are developing with that you would be willing to discuss terms after the strike concludes. Please contact WGAW Member Organizing or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 if you are developing an animated series.
IMMIGRATIONScroll to Top
I’m on an O-1 Visa—is my immigration status impacted by participating in a strike?
No. A writer’s immigration status will normally not be affected in the event of a strike, provided that the writer complies with all the normal O-1 visa rules. Contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 if you’d like to discuss your particular situation.
RESIDUALSScroll to Top
Are residuals payments suspended during a strike?
No, the Companies must continue to pay residuals that are owed. The Guild will continue to enforce residual obligations.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCEScroll to Top
Do I qualify for unemployment insurance if I’m not working because I’m on strike?
In California, employees on strike are normally not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits.
In New York, employees eligible for unemployment are entitled to unemployment insurance benefits while on strike after a two (2) week waiting period.
Please contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 for additional information.
NON-MEMBERSScroll to Top
Can non-members perform writing services for struck companies during a strike?
It has long been the WGAW and WGAE policy to ban from future membership any non-member who performs writing services for struck companies—what is commonly known as scab writing. This policy has been strictly enforced and has resulted in convincing many would-be strikebreakers to refrain from harming the Guilds and their members during a strike. It is important for you to report to the Guilds the name of any non-member you believe has performed writing services for a struck company and as much information as possible about the non-member’s services.
What about studio-based fellowships or programs?
It’s OK to apply to studio-based fellowships or programs prior to a strike. If a strike order is issued, however, programs that involve employment by a struck company to write literary material would be considered struck work. Nor should you sell or develop literary material for struck companies.
If you have questions about a particular program, contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844.
MBA ENFORCEMENT DURING A STRIKEScroll to Top
How can the Guild help if a struck company doesn’t pay me for writing services I performed before a strike?
The MBA requires payment at full minimum, or if you have an overscale contract, at your negotiated price, within seven (7) days after delivery of the material. Make an immediate demand on the Company for full payment. If the Company refuses to pay, or the check is not received within seven days after delivery, contact the WGAW Legal Department (323) 782-4521 or the WGAE Legal Department (212) 767-7844 to discuss filing a claim. You are entitled to full payment for writing services rendered even if the Guild is on strike.
NON-MBA MEMBERS OF THE WGAScroll to Top
How do I know if work is covered under the MBA?
The MBA covers writing for feature film, television, podcast, and new media projects—including scripted projects for streaming services like Netflix, Apple and Amazon, for example. Fiction podcasts may be covered as well. It also includes writing for network news magazine programs like 60 Minutes. However, it does not cover local or national television, radio, or streaming news, nor does it cover nonfiction television or nonfiction podcasts.
Please contact the Guild if you have questions about whether your work is covered under the MBA.
Will members working under other WGA collective bargaining agreements also go on strike if there is an MBA strike?
No, the strike affects WGA members who work under the MBA, not members in (i) broadcast TV, radio, or streaming news, (ii) online media, (iii) nonfiction television, or (iv) nonfiction podcast contracts.
What if I am asked to do work that is covered under the MBA, of if there is a picket line outside of where I work?
All WGA members are required to abide by the Strike Rules which prohibit members from performing MBA-covered writing services for struck companies. That means no Guild member, in any sector, can be hired to perform writing services in TV and feature films for, nor to sell or option any literary material to, struck companies.
If there is a picket line outside your place of work, the WGA will send you advance notice and inform you how to proceed. It is important in these situations to contact the WGA staff representative for your sector immediately to inform them of the situation.
- WGAE Broadcast, Cable, and Streaming News: WGAE: Michael Isaac, WGAW: Robert Disney
- Online Media & Podcasts: Terri Nilliasca
- Film, Television and Streaming (Podcasts, Nonfiction Television, Public Television): WGAE: Michelle Kuchinsky; WGAW Contracts Department
What if I as a non-MBA member of the WGA want to join my fellow writers on the picket line or at a rally?
The WGA will keep all members informed on picket and rally locations, and will also be posted to this website. We encourage non-MBA members to show solidarity with their fellow WGA members and join the picket line or rallies. If there is a WGA picket line at your place of work, and you are a non-MBA member, please contact your WGA staff representative.
We also strongly encourage members to use their social media to support members on strike. You will be able to find graphics in our Social Media Toolkit.