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Legal Alert

The WGA's Strike Rules Provide Guidance on What is Allowed and Prohibited During the Strike

The WGA's Strike Rules Provide Guidance on What is Allowed and Prohibited During the Strike

On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America (“WGA”) commenced a strike after failing to secure a new Minimum Basic Agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (“AMPTP”). The two parties were unable to agree on key terms, including the minimum size of writers’ rooms, residuals from streaming, and the use of artificial intelligence. Even with the Directors Guild of America (“DGA”) reaching an agreement with AMPTP, the strike has entered its second month and the two parties continue in stalemate.

Until the strike ends, the WGA has published official “Strike Rules” providing guidance on what activity is allowed and what activity is prohibited. The basic principle behind these rules is that WGA Members (or their agents/other representatives acting on their client’s behalf) may not (a) meet or negotiate with a struck company; or (b) provide writing services for, or sell or option literary material to, a struck company.

Key Points

  • Writers may perform other work during the strike, so long as such work is unrelated to writing and does not otherwise violate the Strike Rules.
  • Importantly, there are no circumstances under which a WGA Member can render writing services for a "struck company" (i.e., a company that is a signatory to the prior Basic Agreement) during the strike.

What WGA Members are prohibited from doing

  • WGA Members are prohibited from providing any writing services to a struck company.
  • WGA Members may not continue to write or complete writing started before the strike for a struck company, including making changes or revisions to the literary material.
  • WGA Members cannot attend meetings or engage in conversations as a writer with any struck companies concerning new, pending, or future projects/writing assignments with producers.
  • WGA Members may not write for any non-union writing projects or non-signatory foreign producers.

What WGA Members are allowed to do

  • WGA Members may pursue any other line of business that is not otherwise prohibited by the Strike Rules.
  • WGA Members may work on "spec scripts" (i.e., a script that the writer is not commissioned by a company to write).
  • WGA Members may write for outlets not covered by the WGA, such as books (fiction and nonfiction), magazines, other articles, and poetry.
  • While WGA Members may continue performing purely producing, directing, or acting functions (but see below under Other Considerations concerning “hyphenates”), members are encouraged to refuse to perform any work for struck companies to assist the strike effort.

What WGA Members are required to do

  • WGA Members must picket and/or perform other strike support duties.
  • WGA Members must inform the guild of any witnessed strikebreaking activity.

Other Considerations

  • So-called “hyphenates” (such as writer-producers, writer-directors, writer-actors) may continue to perform such other services during the strike, but cannot provide any writing services, no matter how minimal.
  • Writers performing services involving fictional podcasts or fully animated programs are advised to consult with the WGA before taking any action.
  • Many animators are members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees’ Animation Guild (“TAG”). Certain animation projects are covered under TAG’s Basic Agreement, while others are covered under the WGA’s Basic Agreement. TAG is not on strike. Accordingly, TAG Members can continue to meet, pitch, and develop animated shows at TAG and non-WGA companies. However, TAG is advising its members not to meet with, pitch to, or develop content for companies involving any WGA covered work.

While the strike continues, changes to the Strike Rules may occur over the next few weeks. Hanson Bridgett will continue to monitor developments as they arise.

Hanson Bridgett Summer Associate Kevin Chaey contributed to this article.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Harry Rimalower
Harry Rimalower
Los Angeles, CA
Alfonso Estrada
Alfonso Estrada
Los Angeles, CA

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