Chris Keyser, the co-chair of the Writers Guild of America negotiating committee, said in a video message Friday that the WGA is prepared to fight alone if necessary.
Keyser said that the guild, which has been on strike since May 2, is “girded by an alliance” with SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild of America. But he promised that even if both guilds reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers this month, “We will fight on.”
“Any deal that puts this town back to work runs straight through the WGA and there is no way around us,” Keyser said. “We are strong enough — we have always been strong enough — to get the deal we need with writer power alone.”
The DGA has been negotiating a contract since May 10, and has only a few days left before SAG-AFTRA is scheduled to begin its talks next Wednesday. The WGA has been sending out messages this week that a DGA deal should not be expected to resolve the writers’ strike.
The WGA is keen to avoid a repeat of the 2007-08 strike, when the directors got a deal that became the template for the writers’ agreement.
In this round of bargaining, the DGA is primarily focused on getting a better streaming residual formula, which would account for the growth in international subscribers. The WGA has made clear that such a formula would not be enough to resolve its issues, which include a minimum TV staffing level and a viewership-based streaming residual.
SAG-AFTRA will also be bargaining for a better streaming residual, but has issues that are unique to actors as well, such as regulations on self-taped auditions and limits on the use of AI-generated performances.
In the video message, Keyser said that the AMPTP’s 2007-08 playbook “doesn’t belong in a negotiation room — it belongs in a museum.”
SAG-AFTRA has already called a strike authorization vote, with ballots due on Monday. Keyser said the vote “should send shivers down the companies’ spine.”
Keyser acknowledged that the strike is “painful,” but that the companies have “taught us, however painfully, to withstand months and months without work.” He said is “untenable” to “rush back to jobs that may not even be there in a year or two.”
“Uncertainty is painful,” he said. “Is there any one of us who doesn’t wake up feeling the weight of this every day? I don’t think so. Having no income in a tenuous job market is painful.”
Keyser said he has no doubt about writers’ ability to endure the strike. He also said that the companies are feeling pain as well, and the pain will increase once the fall TV season begins to slip away.