The 2007 Writer’s Strike marked a period of uncertainty and confusion for many writers to understand the Writer Guild of America (WGA) Rules. WGA writers are uncertain whether they could continue to write or pitch to non-WGA companies, while non-WGA writers questioned whether they could provide their services to WGA companies.
WGA Writers/ Non-WGA Companies
The WGA established rules for WGA writers during the strike. These rules state “you (and your agent or other representative on your behalf) may not pitch to or negotiate with a struck company, and you may not provide writing services, sell or option literary material to a struck company.”
The WGA rules are fairly simple. However, the rules beg the question as to what is a “struck” company? A struck company is a company with which the WGA has a signatory agreement. This means the companies have agreed to the terms of the WGA’s Basic Agreement. The WGA Basic Agreement addresses minimum pay rates, residuals, pension and health plan contributions, etc. In fact, all major studios and networks have signed the WGA agreement, assigning them as struck companies. For a list and further information regarding struck companies go to www.wga.com.
Conversely, many small companies operate independent of the WGA and have not signed the WGA Basic Agreement. Therefore, they are referred to as non-signatory companies. Since non-signatory companies are not struck companies, the WGA strike rules do not prohibit writers from writing or pitching to these companies. However, when in the slightest doubt, it is strongly recommended that writers consult with the WGA before writing or pitching to any company.
Non-WGA Writers/WGA Companies
Non-WGA members may write and pitch to WGA signatory companies. Yet, it is strongly discouraged. According to the 2007 Strike Rules “the guild does not have the authority to discipline non members for strike breaking and/ or scab writing. However, the Guild is eligible to bar non-WGA the writers from future Guild membership. This policy has been strictly enforced in the past and has resulted in convincing many would be strike breakers to refrain from seriously harming the Guild and its members during a strike.”
In fact, there are many production companies in which writers can pitch and sell their screenplay during the strike. But in doing so, writers must be certain not to violate the WGA rules. Should you have any questions concerning the strike, or information concerning companies you plan to conduct business, the Law Offices of Akua Boyenne are available for your assistance.