The US Writers’ Strike is over.
Members of the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) voted last night in favour of ending the current strike (92% support for this), so in theory the writers are back at work as of today. I’d imagine it may take a bit longer than that in reality, but it’s good news for the writers (who can now get back to work), and also for the casts and crews of suspended shows and films. And of course for the studios, who – even under the new agreement – will still make a nice tidy profit from the work done by the people I’ve just mentioned.
The WGA members still have to vote to ratify the new agreement, but as it gives them residual rights for internet sales and broadcast (using the figure of ‘distributor’s gross’), something which the studios were initially extremely opposed to, I’m rather inclined to wonder if the WGA Negotiating Committee were the greatest and most forceful negotiators since Genghis Khan, or if the studios were rather exaggerating when they said there was no money in new media, and so they had none to offer. As is so often the case, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Still, as one who’d like to make his living arranging words in order on pages and screens, it’s heartening to see writers get increased financial rewards for their work, and as one who grew up in the UK in the 1980s when strikes were pretty much demonised as the preserve of Socialist agitators, it’s been educational to see the way that the WGA have conducted the strike itself and also their campaign to raise awareness of it; whilst a lot of the press and TV is inevitably tied in with the studios who the WGA was disagreeing with, I think they did a terrific job of using the internet (ironically, given that new media was arguably the issue at the heart of the strike) to get the word out, and to involve not only WGA members, but also viewers of TV and film in supporting the WGA cause.
As David Bishop notes, future generations of writers will probably be grateful to the current WGA members. Though of course in the far-flung future, where you experience a film or story by drinking a neuro-narrative-peptide cocktail and sit and enjoy its plot twists whilst your hovercar auto-pilots itself to your gleaming silver spire of a home, the idea of striking may seem as antiquated as valve-based radiograms do now.
*Though I’m so impressed by their efforts, I think I may well join the WG-GB.