500 writers attend first WGA membership meeting about upcoming contract negotiations: “We unite!”

About 500 WGA members gathered today at the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles to hear their leaders discuss the guild’s upcoming negotiations for a new film and TV contract. The press was not allowed inside, but out on the street, cheers and applause could be heard from the meeting. This is the first of four member meetings to be held this month, with two more scheduled in LA and one in New York.

Solidarity was the order of the day. Although those in attendance were asked not to speak to reporters, many said the membership agreement was put together ahead of negotiations, which have yet to be scheduled with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The WGA’s current contract expires on May 1

“The leadership presented their agenda, and everyone applauded,” said one writer after leaving the meeting. “They are warming the soldiers.”

“We support the guild and its position,” said another.

“I’m very proud of my union,” another writer said after the meeting. “We are united!”

“It was a great meeting,” said another with a thumbs up sign.

“Solidarity!” said another.

“It was a pep rally,” said another.

Ahead of today’s meeting, the guild’s negotiating committee said in an email to members that “we will present our proposed bargaining agenda and you will have an opportunity to share your thoughts, ask questions and hear what is at stake from your fellow members.”

The possibility of a writers’ strike is a concern for many in the industry, but WGA leaders are urging their members not to believe the rumors.

“Now, you’ve probably heard a lot of rumors and inflammatory claims in the press about our upcoming negotiations,” WGA West board member and 2023 Negotiating Committee member Adam Conover said in a video recently posted on the guild’s website. “So, I want to remind you that anyone who claims That they know what the guild is going to do this cycle, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Because our guild is a democratic organization. We are the guild, all of us. And we, the membership, are the ones who decide how to proceed.”

Still, he said: “Now, get ready. AMPTP’s initial proposals have always consisted of almost complete rollbacks and cuts of our compensation and other important protections and benefits.

On his recent ScriptNotes podcast, John August, who also serves on the guild’s negotiating committee, was asked about rumors and concerns that the strike is a foregone conclusion.

“It’s really kind of annoying, honestly,” he said. “The Guild did not offer him any; We don’t know anything about what companies are going to propose – so a lot can happen, and it’s still too early. That said, studios and networks are certainly trying to prepare for it if it does happen. You see they’re opening the writers room early – they’re trying to get scripts by May 1.” He added that “it’s really normal” at this stage of pre-negotiations.

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