As a member of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG), WGI has committed to ensuring that our members shall in no case work within the jurisdiction of a Member Guild for any engager who has not adhered to the relevant collective bargaining agreement of that Guild (or who is on the unfair or strike list of that Guild).
In addition the board of the Writers’ Guild of Ireland has expressed a motion of solidarity with the Writers Guild of America.
Therefore, the Guild is advising our members not to work on projects within the jurisdiction of the WGA for the duration of the strike.
WGI Chair, Jennifer Davidson said, “The Writers’ Guild of Ireland stands with our colleagues in the WGA as they begin their strike. I’d encourage all our members to read up on the background to the strike and what the WGA are asking for. Striking is a last resort and not something any writers take lightly. But it’s so important to be able to collectively stand together for our rights. What’s happening in the US now in terms of how writers get treated will have an impact in the rest of the world. We all know here the reality of writers being expected to do unpaid development work and how that directly impacts the diversity of writers in our industry, excluding those who can’t afford to work for free. We’ve all seen the contracts asking us to waive our rights to the fair and proportionate remuneration that the European Copyright Directive grants us. Which is why we are asking all Writers’ Guild of Ireland members to show solidarity with our colleagues in the US, to really pay attention to the contracts that you’re being offered, to not sign away your rights and to not accept any contracts on projects that fall under the jurisdiction of the strike.”
What Does The Strike Mean for WGI members?
With US writers on strike, it’s increasingly likely that US companies are going to be looking further afield and will likely call your agents, asking for meetings, or for pitches and scripts. Of course this is going to seem flattering, and potentially an opportunity to break into the US market, but doing so would mean that you’re breaking the strike, and this could have real implications for your career, not least that you’ll be barred from working in the US as soon as the strike is over.
Specifically, Rule 13 of the WGA Strike Rules states the following:
Rules pertaining to non-members: The Guild [WGA] does not have the authority to discipline non-members for strikebreaking or scab writing. However, the Guild [WGA] can and will bar that writer from future Guild [WGA] membership. This policy has been strictly enforced in the past and has resulted in convincing many would-be strikebreakers to refrain from harming the Guild [WGA] and its members during a strike. Therefore, it is important for members to report to the Guild [WGA] the name of any non-member whom you believe has performed writing services for a struck company and as much information as possible about the non-member’s services
What Does US Jurisdiction Mean?
Work undertaken for US companies under WGA terms will fall under WGA jurisdiction and writers should check its status with WGA.
As always, writers should not take work without a contract. That contract should stipulate where the production is based and where applicable, under which guild’s terms it operates.
As the strike progresses, Irish-based work undertaken for US companies under terms other than the WGA may be affected and members should contact the WGI for further advice.
How Does Being Barred From The WGA Affect Our Members?
The WGA operates a collective bargaining system sometimes referred to as a ‘Guild Shop’. This means that companies who are signatories to the MBA agreement cannot hire writers who are not WGA members and WGA members are prohibited from working for companies who are not signatories to the AMPTP Minimum Basic Agreement. In reality, this means that to work as a screenwriter in the USA, you need to be a member of the WGA. If you break the WGA strike by taking work in the US jurisdiction for the duration of the strike, you risk being blacklisted by the WGA which could seriously damage your long-term career.
What Counts As A Struck Company?
The full list of signatory companies to the 2020 WGA AMPTP MBA agreement (which expired on 1 May 2023) can be found on pages 3-7 (PDF pages 18-22) of the agreement here.
As yet, we don’t have clarification on how European subsidiaries of US streamers – (Netflix, Disney, Amazon etc) will be viewed by the WGA in terms of ‘struck’ work, but we will keep you informed as soon as this becomes clear.
If you’re unsure about the status of a contract or potential work opportunity, please contact us and we will advise.