The Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA-LA) applauds the members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) for their “YES” vote on a strike authorization. The record turnout and nearly unanimous decision sends a clear message to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP): deliver a fair deal to writers or face a strong and unified strike.
As the Guild observes, the corporations that make up the AMPTP earned $51 billion of profit in 2016. In light of this, that the income of writers fell by 23% over the last three years is unconscionable. Television writers in particular suffer due to shorter series orders that reduce their income, compounded by exclusivity clauses preventing them from taking additional work. The WGA’s Health Plan also faces deficits that threaten the continued viability of the plan and jeopardize coverage of thousands of workers. The current agreement between the AMPTP and the Writers Guild is untenable and must be renegotiated.
Writers are rarely thought of as “workers” in the popular imagination and are often told that they should be grateful for their “dream job” as a way of justifying unfair situations. The consequences of this specious stereotype are felt especially by non-unionized writers in emerging digital markets who have no recourse to collectively bargain for their rights and benefits. Many DSA-LA members working in the media industries find themselves in these exact conditions.
As the WGA has demonstrated in securing health insurance, pensions, residuals, and credits for its membership, a writing career does not have to be founded on precarity. An organized workplace can fight back against exploitation from management and offer stability in an often volatile industry. Demonstrating to its members and to the public that the Guild is willing and able to fight for the rights of its members is vital to the continued health and expansion of the WGA. By voting in an overwhelming majority to authorize a strike if the two parties do not reach an agreement, it’s clear that the members of the Writers Guild agree.
Striking is an underutilized tactic in the fight for for better working conditions by entertainment unions and guilds. We believe that in the midst of these threats from the AMPTP, workers must exercise their power to win the fair deal that is owed to them. If the AMPTP will not agree to a reasonable contract, DSA-LA will call on its network of 2,000 Angelenos to stand in solidarity with the workers represented by the WGA in support of whatever actions they deem necessary to win a fair deal.