078 – WGA Writers’ Strike

078 – WGA Writers’ Strike

The WGA Writers' Strike and what it means for WGA Members, Pre-WGA Members, and the film industry. The WGA Writers' agreement expires at midnight on Monday, May 1st, 2023.

May 2, 2023 - Update: The WGA is on strike: https://www.wgacontract2023.org/announcements/wga-on-strike

Show Notes

The History of WGA Writers' Strikes - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writers_Guild_of_America_strike

WGA.org Strike Authorization Approved at 97.85%https://www.wgacontract2023.org/updates/strike-authorization-vote-results

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Automated Transcripts

Michael Jamin:
Don't even think about scabbing because the, the person who's gonna hire you for a show or to write on a show is gonna be a showrunner. This is what you do. Don't think about sca. Go to wherever the pickets lines are gonna be. And they're, you're always outside the major studios, Warner Brothers. Boom.

Phil Hudson:
If I could drop this mic, I would, that's exactly what I was gonna ask.

Michael Jamin:
You're gonna say, you pick up a sign they give, they give away signs. You know, I have picket signs and you, you, you carry one. And you start picketing with the writers who are online, and you just start talking to them as a friend and friendly. And people, they'll say, oh, are you, what show do you work on? And you'll say, no, I'm not working on a show. I, I aspire to be a writer. And I guarantee you, whoever you're talking to is gonna be grateful you're carrying a sign. And because they have nothing other to, they have nothing else to do, other than pick it for three hours, they will talk to you because there's nothing else to do. And so now, like, talk about a networking event. Go there, pick up a sign and talk to everyone online. There's, they have nothing else to do. Then talk.
You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin.
Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to another episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This. I'm here with Phil Hudson. Welcome Phil.

Phil Hudson:
Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Michael Jamin:
Thanks for having me. Today we're talking about the impending writer's strike. What are my thoughts about it? Maybe there won't be one, or maybe when you're listening to this, there already is, who knows. But as of today, when we're recorded, here's my thoughts cuz everyone wants to know what what's going on. And I don't, I don't speak for the Writer's Guild. I'm not I'm a member, but I'm not on the board. So I'll just walk you through it. Every three years, the contract that the Writer's Guild has with the studios is up for renewal. And then we call it the b a And that determines

Phil Hudson:
Minimum, minimum, minimum basic agreement,

Michael Jamin:
Right? Minimum basic agreement.

Phil Hudson:
Not National Basketball Association, but the minimum basic agreement

Michael Jamin:
Basketball. And so, but this, this covers things like, well, how much writers get paid for in health and pension contributions, how much writers get paid for minimum. So what a minimum script would be if you sell a script for, on a certain budget or on a TV show for hour long, whatever those are minimums that, and which minimums are good. I know minimums sound like a bad thing, but minimums are a good thing. This is the least that they have to pay you. They probably have to, will pay you more, but this is the least. And also, and also working conditions, Sal it was all these things that come up and every year, the studios, it's always contentious. Every three years we have this negotiation. It it, it's always contentious. It never, it doesn't always result in strikes. But the last one was 2008, we went on strike.
But every three years we have this and the Guild you know, guild's voice trying to get more, and the studio's usually trying to roll back. They call it roll back. They want to give you less. Now, every the studios, they cry, record profits. This is what they do. They tell record, they talk to their shareholders, they declare record profits. Cuz that's what the shareholders want to hear. And maybe it's true, but when they negotiate with the writers, suddenly I'm a little light today. Suddenly they don't have the, you know, they, they, they cry property <laugh>. And it's not personal. It's just how that's how they do. That's how business is done. It's just business.

Phil Hudson:
So just a, just a note on this, and this is from Wikipedia. In the 2008 strike, one of the things that was up for, for talk was D v D residuals. And in 2004, the New York Times reported companies made 4.8 billion in home video sales and only 1.78 billion in the box office at the Itters. That's the difference. And

Michael Jamin:
They don't wanna show the pies with it what

Phil Hudson:
It is. And, and there was no change. There was no change on that. We, that was removed from that strike. So we'll get to that. But

Michael Jamin:
Basically you'll, the narrative you'll probably hear with the shooters, cause the students have big budgets, they'll, they'll, they'll promote this. And again, it's not personal, but they'll say, yeah, writers are being a little greedy. They're overreaching, they're being greedy. Now here's the thing, no one becomes a screenwriter because they're motivated by money. If they, that were the case, they'd go into they go become well, they become lawyers. They become whatever, they go some kind of c e o position that that's, they would go that path, the corporate path, if you wanted, if your rich is your, you become a screenwriter cuz you wanna live a creative life cuz you like creating, hopefully money will follow. But that's not why you go into it. You go into it because you just wanna live a creative life. And the idea of sitting in a cubicle does not turn you on it.
Just anything but that. So the notion of you, you can hear the idea of a we've heard those greedy CEOs, we've heard that expression. We've heard those greedy politicians. We've heard that. We don't really hear those greedy artists. You hear those starving artists. That's something you hear starving artists because people are willing to sacrifice for their art. And most screenwriters start off as you know, Phil struggling, hustling, barely getting by doing whatever it takes to pay the bills so that they can break in so they can become a screenwriter. So we all, we all pay those dues. And so in exchange, we're not even asking for job security. We're asking for just some money so that we can live basically a middle class life, because that's what most screenwriters live. Now, I know don't point to the, the, the more, the big show runners who make billions and billions don't point or billions, but millions and millions don't point to them because the vast majority of screenwriters are just middle class people.
In the middle class. They're just, you know, paying the bills and hopefully setting some aside, but they're not ultra-rich driving Ferrari. So the last writer's strike was 2008. And that was, so the writers wanted some, the Guild was very forward looking. And the the Guild said, no, these writers and, and people often say, well, that's the one that killed their bu the business, well the writers, we had to go on strike on that. That was to cover streaming. So something new thing called streaming, which no, we didn't even know what it was back then. There was still cable and no one really knew, understood what streaming was. And the guilds asserted that it doesn't really matter how you broadcast this, whether you're gonna put it on the air, whether you're gonna put it on cable, whether you're gonna put it all over the internet. It doesn't really matter how you guys distribute the product. The writers still deserve to get paid for this product. And so the theri, the studio said, no, no, no. Which went on strike. And in the end, the Writers Guild got jurisdiction over this thing called streaming. Had it had we not struck

Phil Hudson:
New media is the, I think the contractor, yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Had we not struck any show that would've been sold to Amazon or Netflix or whatever, or H B l Max would've been, eh, you're on your own. We're not paying, we're not paying you the rates that you guys should get paid. We're not paying you pres pension residuals. So this was a big strike. It was of important. We went on strike about three months. We all carried picket signs. I lost a lot of money. I lost a lot of money on that. But you know what, I went in feeling, well, it wasn't mine to begin with because I got what I got on the backs of writers before, before me who went on strike for me. So it's not, wasn't mine anyway, but I did lose a lot of money. Not angry with the guilt for that. It's just the way it goes. I'm angry at the studios. And I'm not even angry anymore. It's, it's life. It was never mine. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Do you, do you wanna talk about the history of those or do you want to keep going? I don't

Michael Jamin:
Know. That's about, that's about the history that I know. I don't, I don't know much.

Phil Hudson:
Lemme just give everyone a quick summary of the previous Writer's Guild strikes. So 1960, the Writer's Guild went on strike for 146 days. And that was over broadcast royalties. So it was about not getting paid. 1981, they went on strike for three months. It was about residuals on pay TV and home video, because VHS was a for new thing. Cable was pay tv. It's about payment. 1989. the longest strike in history was 153 days. And it was about residuals for hour long and creative rights and cost cuts in other areas like producer demands. So again, about that. And then in 2007, 2008, it was 100 days, which is the second longest strike actually be the third's longest strike that's ever been there. So strikes have been longer, but it's all over. Studios not wanting to pay writers.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And you know, it's cost cutting because they serve, they're masters. Like if, if this were a small business, I this, there would be no strikes because you're, you always wanna do your employees right, your contractors right, your vendors, right. Because you don't wanna, it costs a lot of money to train these people to get new ones. It much more symbiotic. They do right by you. You do right by them. They do right by you. It's cause I've owned, I run a small business and you do as well. And so you bend over backwards to keep your employees happy because it's just, that's what, that's what businesses do. But when you become a big business, then you have to answer to the shareholders. And the shareholders only want one thing. Record profits. That's all they really care about. And so the students are doing things that's their master is to share.
And so at any cost. And so that's whatever, that's just the, that's cor life in modern day corporate America. Again, not taking it personally, but that's why their, that's how their decisions are being made. Now, this strike is about, this is a big strike. I, I I I say strike. We're not strike yet. I, I suspect one is coming. What happened is, a couple of weeks ago, the W g A sent out a pattern of, of demands. They spent the whole previous year interviewing writers. What's important to you. They're membership. It's a small membership. We're talking about, I dunno, five, 6,000 people, whatever. It's it's a small membership of people in New Writers Guild. What, what's important to you? And, and we filled about surveys. They, they, they added up our, how much money we made. And they did a lot of facts and figures and this thing, okay, this is what we came back.
This is what we think is important to you. This, that became the pattern of demand. Pattern of demands, what they want us to negotiate for. Now, the reality is writers today today, this year are making 4% less money than they did 10 years ago. 4% dip in terms of overall salaries. The pa you know, we did it 10 years ago, but that's not adjusted. That's not, you never wanna go make less. That's 4% less, but adjust it for inflation, it's actually 22% less. So you're making a quarter less of what your salary is. That's, that's a big deal. And, and so they, they, you know, they're all, we all know this, it's not a big secret. So the guilt put out a pattern of demands asking the membership, do you guys agree with this pattern? This is what we're gonna ask for. Do you agree with this?
And we all voted, or most of us voted. And this year we came back with 90, 0, 98 0.4% of the Guild membership. You're talking about 5,500 people who voted yes for this patent or demands, which is crazy. If you asked people to vote, you know, does the sun rise in the East? You wouldn't get 98.4% agreement people, there'd be a lot of people say, no, it doesn't. The world, the world is flat. So the fact that we, 98.4% agreed in this pattern is cr pattern of demands is crazy for comparison. In 2020, only 90.7% agreed with the pattern of demands. So this is a big deal. We all feel this is a problem. All the membership feels this is a problem. They go negotiating, they begin negotiating with the, with the the producers, the studios. And how it usually goes is the guild ask for more and the studio asks for rollbacks, they ask for less.
That's just how it goes. And hopefully you get some common ground. It doesn't look like we're getting it. It looks like the Guild is asking for a lot. We're asking for a lot. We really are because it's kind of it we're gotten to a point where because of streaming, writers are not unemployed, writers are underemployed, which I think in a way is in more dangerous than a situation, than being underemployed unemployed. Because in the past you might go on a strike and the studio will say, listen, you guys go on strike. And and you might be outta work for a half a year or whatever. But now, if a writer is already out of work for three to six to nine months, what difference does it make? You've already backed me in the corner. I don't care if I go on strike, I'm already not working.
This is what the average writer is saying. I'm already not working. What difference does a strike make? Mm-Hmm. And the reason why writers, I feel, again, I don't speak for the guild, they speak for myself. This is how I see it. The reason why writers are underemployed is because the business model has changed so much in the past 10 years. When I broke into the business, this is a long time ago, but you had four networks basically. And you'd do a hit show and you'd work, you'd basically work, you, most writers get paid per episode produced. And you'd work basically 10 months out of the year. And then you'd take a short hiatus, go back to work, great, everyone's happy. But that's cuz you're doing 22 episodes a year now on a hit show. Now you might be on a hit show, and because it's on streaming, you're only gonna do eight, maybe 10 episodes a year, a season.
That's a huge hit. Making matters worse, studios are cutting back on budgets, they're not cutting back. And this is on the budgets of the show. They're cutting back on the budgets of the writing staff. And so, cuz the show still have big budgets, production budgets. And so the writing staff, which was it used to be maybe 10 writers now might be down to six. And those six writers are not gonna work for the entire production of the show, which is what it used to be. Now, you're only gonna work for in pre-production, which means you may, let's say you're doing 13 episodes a season. You may only be hired for three months out of the year, and you're on a hitch show.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, it's 10, 10 to 12 weeks or something like that, is what I've seen.

Michael Jamin:
So Frank, if you're doing 12 weeks of work a year on a hitch show, that's not enough to get by. And you could say, well, why don't you? Yeah, but you can get on another show. Good. It's not so easy. The the stars have to align. You have to be in, in strong demand. The schedules have to overlap, not overlap. It's not so easy. What you can do is supplement your income, hopefully by selling a pilot. But again, selling a pilot is, no, it's not easy. Like I, my partner, we sold probably a dozen pilots, but we've not sold many, many more. And so what I feel the position is, you have a lot of writers who are in the business, they're are working, but underemployed. And so that's a powder keg. So it's basically saying, screw it. And now many people are gonna say, well, you guys need better negotiators.
Look, I'm actually a big fan of the Writer's Guild leadership. I think they, they're very communicative. They really keeping you involved. They tell you what's going on. They explain to you thinking it's a democracy. But the truth is, it's like you're only, you don't have any leverage. The only leverage the Writer's Guild has is strike. It's not like you could do, I'll pull up other levers. You say, no, this is, we either are gonna take the deal or not take the deal. There's nothing else you can do to negotiate. You have nothing else to offer. You can, you can walk. And I know many people, other people in the industry and other guilds, other unions, they tend to think that the writers, I many people think the writers are the bad guys. When you writers go on strike, I'm outta work. Yeah, I, I know that. Right? It's, it's hard. It's hard for everybody, but there's no writer. Like, no writer has to take a job that they don't want to take. I mean, nor do you have to take a job that you don't want to take. No one's forcing you to work. If you, if you decide you need to go on strike, go on strike, do it. If you,

Phil Hudson:
And we, and we almost did, we almost did like a year or or so ago with ii ii almost did a strike.

Michael Jamin:
The problem with ii II represents many of the other trades in, you know in the industry, hair, makeup,

Phil Hudson:
Wardrobe, script coordinators. W so writer's assistants and script coordinators are both under II

Michael Jamin:
Writer's as, but the problem with ii, which is a huge, has a huge membership probably 10 times what the Writer's Guild has. So you would think, whoa, they're 10 times as strong. Right? No, but because everyone has a di what the script writer, script coordinator wants, and what the hair and makeup, what they want are completely different things. So to get them to agree, that's why they don't tend to go on strike because their uni, their their their membership is fractured in that, in that respect. They don't agree on what they all want because they're so, their trades are so di diverse. And so that's why they're not going on strike. That's why they're taking crappy deals because they can't go on strike because their membership is too big. Yeah, yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. This this brings up a really important topic of collective bargaining. And I think there's a lot of politic about what is a union and what is a guild and what, whether they're valuable or whether they hurt the economy, ultimately, even on the far right side of things there in the business books, many people, including this famous author, Robert Kiosaki, who wrote rich Dad, poor Dad. He says in there, if you, he doesn't recommend specializing, but if you are specialized, you have to join a union because they are the only thing that will protect you in the future. Right? And it's, to your point, the Writer's Guild exists because there were abuses that took ma like major damage to writers, down to producers giving their girlfriends writing credit over the guy who wrote the script because he wanted to make her like, things like that. And the W g A has prevented a lot of those things. So,

Michael Jamin:
And that the, the WGA helps not just the writers, but the writers, aspiring writers who are not in the guild. Because let's say you sell, you're brand new outta the gate and you sell your movie, right? You know, you sold a movie to someone, everyone knows you'll give your left arm to get this movie sold. You'll sell it for a dollar, right? Because you're so excited and desperate to break in The Writer's Guild steps and says, no, no, no, no, you have to pay this person, even though they're not in the guild. You gotta pay them. Writer's Guild minimum, which whatever it is, maybe 50,000, who knows what it is. But it's there to protect even people who are not in the guild. And it protects the people in the guild so that the people in the guild are not undersold. Because we know in this business, everyone is dead, will love, it's a passion.
So people we're not pursuing the money will do it for less because we like doing it. And that eventually, that's a race to the bottom. And so it's really there to protect everybody because, and at the end of the day, you do want a healthy pool of writers to work with on your future project. Like, you don't wanna create a situation where this, I don't think the studios, they don't wanna create a situation where writers can no longer afford to write, because then you're gonna lose all your talent. Now why are they doing this then? Well, why are we, why are we, why are we the world creating greenhouse glasses, which are gonna kill us all? Why? Because we're fricking idiots. That's why. Because we don't know. It's in our own. We know it's in our own best interest, but we can't seem to get our ass together to do it because short, on the short term, it's actually, it's, it's more advantageous to, to burn fossil fuels and the long term is gonna kill us. So it's the same thing with the studios. They, I feel like they're, they're, they're des setting themselves up for their own destruction. You want a healthy pool of talented writers who can afford to make a living. You don't wanna get rid of those people.

Phil Hudson:
And publicly traded companies make quarterly earnings calls to their people, to the, to their investors. And they have to show those. So they're literally thinking about the next three months, not 10 years down the road. Yeah. Yeah. Which is why oftentimes when new CEOs in, in any of these studios or companies come in, they will, he, they will cut whatever the previous CEO was doing or the previous executive was doing, even if it's a good thing, because they want to make themselves look good to keep their job in that high paying position. That's just, that's a, that's a standard practice in, in the business industry.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And in what world do you hear again, those greedy artists? Yeah. That that does, that's a phrase that doesn't exist in the, in, in reality. So what will happen, I, I predict the Writer's Guild will ask the, their membership to go on strike. And we, and I, I believe we will, because I don't see what we're asking for, is such a dramatic, a dramatic shift in how we are compensated because their business model's changing with streaming. I understand that. But, but they, but they're squeezing the middle class writers so hard in their, in their pursuit of profit that you don't wanna make, you know, they're, they're backing the writers in a corner, I believe. I believe so, yeah.

Phil Hudson:
D despite the fact that everything's cheaper to make because you're shooting everything digitally. There's no film costs, there's no film processing costs. There's your ads are digital. Yeah. Their ads are digital. They're not prints. They, you're not,

Michael Jamin:
That's another thing. When Bright used to get a really healthy residual on vhs and then, but these VHS tapes were big bricks and a lot of move, literally moving parts and tapes and gears literally gears inside. They cost money to assemble. Then when DVDs became a thing, the studio said, no, no, no, we wanna pay you writers less on residuals for these DVDs because it's a new technology. Nevermind the fact that the new technology cost a fraction to make. Because there were no gears. It was just a digital stamp. And it was so e there was so light, there was no shipping costs. There were so small, there was barely any shipping costs. And they were so inexpensive that they had to literally package these things in giant packages because people would shoplift them because of there were, there were nothing. They were, they were that easy to steal. So they had a big giant boxes for them. So they'd make it harder to steal because the production costs were, were so, so low. And so they tried lowing and they did, they roll back how much rider made on D V D, which was painful. It was very painful despite the fact that it was a cheaper and superior product.

Phil Hudson:
And that was something that was in the 2007, 2008 strike that. You was pulled back and not pursued to try to get through that strike. So nothing changed despite that being there,

Michael Jamin:
Even though it was we'll, fight for another day was with how the writers go, because you can't win every fight. And then, and they, you know, they, I think they may have promised, oh, we'll get, we'll make it up to you next time. No, they didn't make up next time and then came streaming. And now streaming costs less to, to, to rerun than than DVDs. Cuz there's literally no manufacturing costs. You're just sending a digital product through the internet. Where's the cost? Right. And, but they, they, they, they're claiming it's, it's new. We don't know how to do this. So you're, we're gonna have to try, you know, the way I say it, that's a you problem, not a me problem. That's a you problem. Yeah.
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Phil Hudson:
So one of the questions that came up for me during the I II stuff, when, when everyone was kind of backing II and the decisions they were making, I was in the production side at the time. So I was hearing the producers and the conversations on that side about we're not sure what's gonna happen depending on if they strike, we might have to shut down production and the cost will kind of explode for us and all those things. But the, the crew I remember people saying, just remember that if you are not in the guild or you're not in the union and you take a job during this, you're a scab and we'll know who you are.
Right. And that really bothered me because my thought was, well, I'm not in your guilt. And, and again, I have no dog in the fight. I don't want to be in that, that union. Right. I don't, I don't wanna be a part of, that's not something I'm pursuing. But it just from a theoretical perspective, it bothered me. Cause it was like, well, I don't currently get any benefits of being in your union. I'm not in your union. I don't can't get into your union. I'm not able to even get the job to start getting in your union because it's about who you know. And here you are, you're attacking someone who wants to take an opportunity to get in that union. And you're saying you will hold them accountable for years to come because there'll be a time and a date stamp when they got in the union and it'll be during this strike.
So that it bothered me. And they said, yes, but what they don't understand is that we are fighting for their future. And that changed my mind because to the same point as the wga, if I get in at an opportunity when I can, I am undermining the union. I will want to join. That will protect me in the future. And that's the problem with it. So from your perspective, and obviously they would have to completely breach with their entire contract with the WGA and undermined a lot of the things, but for a writer to take an opportunity during a strike to sell a script to a company, do you think that's something a new writer should do?

Michael Jamin:
Abso absolutely not for reasons why you said, but also I don't think those opportunities will even be available because no one's wants to make a TV show. No one's gonna spend $2 million on an episode on a TV show and give it to a writer who's never done it before. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, they, they, you know, they, you, you, you wanna pay, you want, this is how you protect your asset is by ha having people who know what they're doing.

Phil Hudson:
Which is why, which is why the contract exists, is because they know the best way for us to be profitable is to work with these people who vet and have standards for what it means to be a good writer.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Experience.

Phil Hudson:
And, and we're willing to pay the person. And there's a path for those people who are good enough that we want them in. We will, we will hire them, and then we will start paying the residuals and all the other things that we have to do for those people when you're on your points to join the w g to join the W G A. But that's not gonna happen to your point at a time when, and, and to your, and to your point, Michael, what I'm hearing on the other side, not in the W G A, is that the studios are sand bagging scripts. They're buying up everything they can and not starting production right now. Because all of the people I know who, it's like, it's kind of a ghost town right now where people are not working because the producers are saying, we're just gonna wait to start production until the strike happens. If they strike, well, we've got all of these scripts that we're sitting on that we'll just put into production, which will hold us out for a year, and then we'll deal with that problem later. So they're just not doing anything.

Michael Jamin:
And that is a tricky situation too. If they, they decide to put someone in production, then I'm not sure if the Writer's Guild says, you are allowed to oversee the production of your show. You may be, you may be allowed to, but you can't do any writing responsibilities.

Phil Hudson:
Which cuz that's a producer, that's a producer responsibility.

Michael Jamin:
And so there's that. I think you can get away with that, but you can't lift a pencil. You could just, you could be on set and you can make suggestions and answer questions, but you can't lift a pencil.

Phil Hudson:
That was a big, big deal. And I, I can't remember. I want to say it might have been Vince Gillian, when he was writing you know, breaking Bad has a really short first season because it was, he was writing it when the strike happened and he said like 6:00 PM or whatever it was that night, he's had to hit send on an email. And that was the last writing he could do on his show. And then it went off to production. And that's what they got.

Michael Jamin:
So I do know some, you know, I have heard stories of other showrunners maybe you know, I don't know, kind of being jerk about the whole thing. I, you know, I, I I'm not that way. I really, I really respect the fact that what I've gotten came on the backs of writers who sacrificed before me. I truly believe that. I know some people, higher up writers or even young writers do not feel that way. I do, I guess I, I have a strong, and this, it's not necessarily a good thing, but I, I I really, I really have a strong feel of social justice. Like, I don't like when people steal. I don't like people, when people bend the rules for their own, like I really feel like I, I get indignant over that. I'm like, no man, you know? Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
It's cutting. I call 'em cutters. We all learned this is a line you got in line. This is your spot. And when someone cuts in front of you, it should make you mad. That is the most American thing, is that we're all here working together. And you don't get to get ahead of me because you pushed your way in. Sorry. Get in the back of the line. And everyone should get mad at a cutter and everyone should put them in the back of the line cuz it's not fair to everybody else.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, yeah. Some people just don't, some like, eh, well, they want more, whatever. But I I, I'm not too worried about scabs. I don't, I really don't. I really think, like if I imagine if I had sced, I, I, I wouldn't have known what to do. I would've been, it was terrible. I was terrible for the first several years of my career, not as a scab, as just as a regular writer. So like, the idea of me getting my show you nuts, it's just like, yeah, I'm not too worried about that. But I know it puts a hardship on people. I know it puts a hardship on people in other guilds and other unions who, and I submit, like I said, many of them blame the Writers' Guild. But the truth is, it's because the writer's guilds probably the strongest of the guild because we're the most united and it's because we all want the same thing. And the, in the past, in the past there was some division with writers, there was the feature writers one thing, and the TV writers wanted another. And so sometimes we would argue over what we wanted in those contract negotiations because teacher TV writers want one thing and feature writers one another thing. But now with almost the work moving to television, there are very few feature writers or exclusively feature writers. So now it's like, eh, we're all, it, it's made us more unified because we all want the same thing

Phil Hudson:
For, for anyone who wants like a historical perspective on this, there's a modern classic called What Makes Sammy Run by Bud Schulberg. And it is fascinating and it, it talks about, you know, effectively scabs or people who will throw people under the bus to get ahead at Sammy Glicks of, of the world. And it's fascinating and it kind of sets around kind of the formation of the First Writer's Guild and its failure. And then moving into, you know, what a, the foundation of a writer's guild to kind of prevent himself. It really fascinating historical view from the son of someone who was a founder of one of these first major motion picture studios who worked with the sells Nicks and the great people of their time.

Michael Jamin:
This is maybe, maybe eight or 10 years ago, whatever. I, I had, I had lunch with the Italian Writer's Guild was trying to, they, in Italy, they were trying to make their own writer's guild. They didn't have a writer's guild. And so they came here to, they met with their guild leaders here. How do we do this? How do we start a guild? How do we to protect our membership? And I had lunch with them and we were talking about stuff and they, they definitely, they want that because they want the protections that we all get in America with health pension, you know, minimums and stuff like that. And they're like, how do we do that? It's, it's a valuable, it's like it's, you know, like this is how we get to live is, you know, with our insurance and contributions and all those residuals help writers get through the lean times because it's not like a job. This is not a job where you have any security. Your show gets canceled, you're outta work, you're outta work for how long, as long as it takes to you to get another job. Who knows? And the residuals help you to carry through those lean times. And like I said, there's no job security. And that's what we are, we are willing to accept that, but we're not willing to accept you know, creating a situation where we can't make money. That's crazy. We gotta, you know, we gotta be able to make money. So

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Yeah. The 2007 to 2008 rider strike NPR reported a 1.5 billion economic impact over those 100 days in the Los Angeles area. And another economist put it higher, but, but they think it's interesting how the spin is that's the writer's fault.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Really. You're right. It's the writer's fault. Cause they went on strike. Why is it not the studio's fault for not offering a fair deal? And in the end they offered a, a fair enough deal. Not still as, as far as I'm the writer's, not fair enough. But, but you know what? I, I don't understand. Look, look, just look at the cars in the driveways and you'll see who's making one, who's

Phil Hudson:
Making, and, and the driveways that the cars are in too, by the way.

Michael Jamin:
Right, right, right. I don't live in a manion on

Phil Hudson:
It. I, I've been to, I've been to Michael's house. It's a nice house, but it's not a mansion. Right. And, and you've made it a house. You've, you've made that house and that neighborhood. Nice. Not necessarily the other way around. One of your stories in paper orchestra is about the, the hoarder who lived in your neighborhood.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. I had a, my two, two houses down. We had a hoarder. So it's you. Yeah. Yeah. That was a funny story.

Phil Hudson:
Well, I've got a couple questions from a pre Prew, g a those of us who want to support, recognize the value of the guild and, and don't want to be scabs or don't wanna, and, and, you know, scabs a harsh word. I, I don't know that I still still care for that. But the people who are gonna take advantage of the opportunity to get ahead

Michael Jamin:
A dumb thing to do. And here's how you, here's how you really can, if you're smart, this is what you do.

Phil Hudson:
This is leading into my question. This is leading into my question. I guarantee it. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Don't even think about sca because the, the person who's gonna hire you for a show or to write on a show is gonna be a showrunner. This is what you do. Don't think about scabbing. Go to wherever the pickets lines are gonna be. And they're, you're always outside the major studios, Warner Brothers. Boom.

Phil Hudson:
If I could drop this mic, I would, that's exactly what I was gonna ask.

Michael Jamin:
That's what you're gonna say. You pick up a sign they give, they give away signs, you know, have picket signs and you, you, you carry one and you start picketing with the writers who are on line and you just start talking to them as a friend, friendly. And people, they'll say, oh, are you, what show do you work on? And you'll say, no, I'm not working on a show. I, I aspire to be a writer. And I guarantee you, whoever you're talking to is gonna be grateful you're carrying a sign. And because they have nothing other to, they have nothing else to do, other than pick it for three hours, they will talk to you because there's nothing else to do. And so now, like, talk about a networking event. Go there, pick up a sign and talk to everyone online. There's, they have nothing else to do, then talk. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
So one step beyond this, and we talk about him all the time, but he's, he's a fascinating case study and someone who's putting in the work, Dave Crossman shoots me an email. Hey, Phil, hearing a lot of stuff about the writer's strike. I wanna pick your brain about how to support, he lives in Seattle. I've already talked to about seven coffee cart companies who will show up and give away free coffee to people on it. And I want to talk to you about what I can do to structure a GoFundMe to fund that, that that dude doesn't even live here. He can't be on the lines to pick it. And he's the one, I've al already talked to someone else who's a showrunner, and they'll, they've connected me with some of the strike. What do they strike captains. I think that that's the term from last year about where they might be to do the strikes. I mean, that dude's putting in the work. He doesn't even live in Hollywood. For those of you who want to know how his job requires him to be outta state. Those of you wanna know how to make it not live in Hollywood. That's an example of a guy making it happen.

Michael Jamin:
He's ambitious. That guy hustles. But but, but, but that's exactly it. Like the people each who are gonna hire you are the writers. They're not gonna be the studio executives <laugh>, pouring hot oil on you <laugh>. So don't e don't even think about pe If you wanna break in, this is a great opportunity just to talk to the people and hear their stories. I I, you know, I've met, I've met so many writers at the last strike, I remember God, I became friends with this guy named Frank Zumi, who was a writer on Sopranos first season. And I love Sopranos. I'm like, yeah. And, and this is the guy who I met on the line and we became friendly. And I just hear his stories of writing, like, that's cool. I was just, I was interested in hearing his, his story, you know? Yeah,

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. You're in the foxhole. That's, you're, you're, you're in a war with those people and it's a war over your livelihood, which is your wage.

Michael Jamin:
I talked to other feature writers who had wrote movies that I really enjoyed. Lowell gans and Bamboo Mandela talked to them on the line and like, like talk about a fricking talk about a treasure trove of, of, if you're an inspiring writer, come on down. If we're on strike, you got, we got nothing to do, but talk to you.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. So show up and support. That's the answer. Because

Michael Jamin:
So many people say, Hey, want, can I take care for coffee? Like, listen dude, my time is worth more than $5 an hour, you know? But but on a, on a picket line, <laugh>, you don't even have to buy any coffee. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
I think that's some really valuable insight. Is there anything else that you think those of us who want to be in the W g A can do to support other than show up and strike?

Michael Jamin:
You know, there, there, that's probably it. There's going to be, you'll go on websites like Deadline or whatever, and there'll always be trolls and people saying, again, greedy, those greedy writers. And I, I'm like, aye, aye, aye. Those greedy artists. So, you know, you could, you could leave kind comments and or, or, or take on the trolls. That's something you could do. There's always gonna be misinformation. Yeah. I I many, we all, during the last strike, we suspected many of them were being paid by the studios. Cuz some of the things we were just saying, like, who would think, who would say such a thing?

Phil Hudson:
<Laugh>. That's where, it's where Russia got the idea in the presidential elections. It's from the studios.

Michael Jamin:
It's not, it's not even personal. I, and I, I, I like many of the people who work at studios, you know, it's not like I have a, I'm angry at them. This is all coming from their, their corporate overlords. I get it. Not personal, it's just business. So,

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So show up, get the work done. You can't be online. Spread the word that way. Awesome. Anything else you wanna add on the subject of Rider Strikes? Michael?

Michael Jamin:
I don't know. I'll probably add, and again, and Strike hasn't been authorized yet. They will probably ask us in a couple weeks to authorize a strike vote.

Phil Hudson:
Let's talk about that. Cause I don't think you hit that. Right. But that's an important first step.

Michael Jamin:
The next step will be negotiation. We'll get a letter of saying the negotiations aren't going well, we're not anywhere near, we need to authorize a strike vote, which is basically you're threatening, Hey, we'll go on strike if you don't give us what, what you're, you we're, because the Guild hasn't, the membership hasn't said that yet. Hasn't agreed to that yet. And so the last time this was 2008, we authorized, or maybe there was one before that

Phil Hudson:
We just, we just author, you just authorized in 2000 20, there was an authorization

Michael Jamin:
And you gotta, and that, that you're basically putting the, the cannon in the cannonball into the cannon. You're saying, we're about to blow this views up, or, you know, it's not, it's, you can't bluff. You cannot bluff. And so, like I said, you only have two tools in the toolbox, which is strike or threat of strike. And you don't really, you don't really have threat of strike. Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Got it. Awesome. Oh, I did see someone else say, and that, and I'm sure I don't know that there's other WGA members who listened to your podcast, but there was somebody who said, even if you don't agree with the strike, you should vote to authorize because the higher the number, the stronger signal it sends that we are willing. And, and I think that's part of being a team player too. Like there are a lot of times you don't feel or agree with the way something your, your partnership, your relationship, or your business partners want to do something. Doesn't mean you have to be 100% aligned as long as you're aligned in the intention as you're moving forward. And, and that's what that is, is you're saying,

Michael Jamin:
I'm sure there'll be a strong turnout and I'm sure everyone will be authorized because it's like, you gotta do it. You're, you're in, in for a penny in for a pound. You gotta do it. There are some writers during the last strike who kind of went you know, basically were kind of, I don't know, they're, you could tell they were against the leadership. And I'm like, just keep it to yourself. That's not helpful now. Yeah. Keep it now we're in shut up until we're out because there's no sense undermining each other. I know. It's hard. It's hard for all of us. Not Yeah. All of us. So shut

Phil Hudson:
That kind of, that kind of happened when the W G A said, Hey, you gotta fire your agents. Right. That just happened a couple years ago.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And that was another thing that was, sorry, you know, this is all, and again, we wouldn't have gotten any of this were it not for people who fought before us. So if there were no guilt, this would be doggie dog and none of us would have any work. We'd be working, we'd be making scraps. So

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. That's hard. That's hard stuff. Just one anecdote on that. There was a writer when they, the WGA said, fire your agents. He said, my agent was the best man at my wedding. He's the godfather to my children. He's been my agent my whole career. And I had to fire him. And I had to say, this is nothing personal. And he understood it sucked. It still sucked to do because it's a personal family friend now. And it is what it is. I

Michael Jamin:
Got bad news. That agent would've stabbed him back in a minute. <Laugh>, he would've dropped him, would've dropped him like a hot fly. That agent would've said, I know I was the best man in your wedding, but we're making changes here. I have to let you go. I guarantee the agent would've said that. It's business goes both ways. Goes both ways.

Phil Hudson:
It's the business side of things.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Phil Hudson:
Awesome. Well, that's that's what the great insight is to what's coming up for any other questions. I mean, leave them in the comments on YouTube where you're watching this or on Michael's site and we'll hop in and try to answer those. There are a lot of other things.

Michael Jamin:
Strike what we'll see. Yeah, go ahead, Phil.

Phil Hudson:
There, there are a lot of other things too. You know, we talk about 'em every podcast, but for those of you who are new, there are a lot of resources that Michael has one of the most recent changes as you've started doing these webinars, and we've talked about that on a few episodes. But the webinar is a, a monthly webinar talking, taking a different approach on a different topic for things you need to know to become a professional writer. How to write a great story. How to move, how to move a break, how to break into the industry might have been one of the topics. We got a bunch of those different things coming up. And so if you want to attend a webinar with Michael who spends an hour teaching you some really important stuff, I think you often give away a free license to your course so people can get into that. And you're also giving away eBooks. You got little guides you're giving away now too to everybody who attends. So no matter what, you're gonna win

Michael Jamin:
If you show up, here's the thing, if you show up live, we give you a special present, special download book as well as a chance to win the course. And if you miss it, we send you the free replay. You can watch for like 24 hours. If you miss it after that, then it'll be available on the website for a small fee. But if you tune in, you get, it's all if it's, it's free. If you tune in, you get all this stuff and let, actually, we we're doing this a lot. You got a da everyone who who tunes in will get a discounted price if you decide to take the course, which is our, are basically our Black Fridays. Is that what we're saying, Phil?

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. It's like, it's like the best deal you ever give. It's the cheapest you've ever offered the course for those who are interested. And it kind of generally kicks off when the course is open. Anyway, so if you're interested, you should attend the webinar. You might get a better deal.

Michael Jamin:
That's what you should do.

Phil Hudson:
But you can sign up at michaeljamin.com/webinar. That's where you can go to get on that. Beyond that, you got a lot of other things. You got the watch list, which is the weekly newsletter with your top three piece of advice at michaeljamin.com/watchlist. There's the free lesson, which is the first lesson from your course. So it's michaeljamin.com/free. A paper orchestra for people interested in your book of essays, which you're working on volume two, right. But

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, you started writing that and essay sounds boring, but the, but these are stories and they're, they're fun stories and I perform them and if you wanna see me tour or you wanna just get the book or the ebook, which we're producing now, it is on, I was just having a chat with the our, our composer Anthony Rizzo. You can go to michaeljamin.com/upcoming for information for when I get to your city or for when the book drops.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah. Outside of that, your social media @MichaelJaminwriter, lots of free nuggets and great information you give out every day. Have you missed a, have you missed a day?

Michael Jamin:
No. I, I post on, on social media. Yeah. Try to post every day. Sometimes I give myself a break on a Saturday or a Sunday, but yeah, I'm, I'm on it all the time. Some cuz and if I do, then I post twice a day, you know, so I'm, I'm put I'm putting a lot out there and the more I get a lot of I'm trying not to repeat, which is interesting. I'm not repeating a lot as much as I thought, which is like, people ask me questions like, well it's, I've already answered that. I wanna see if I can find something new. Okay. At some point I'll have to start repeating myself, but right now it's like, there's, there's plenty of plenty of new stuff from adding.

Phil Hudson:
Yeah, you can go, you can pop a great question into one of those comment fields there too. On one of those videos, make it related to that topic so you can help people out and probably show up in a video with you. That's pretty cool. Awesome. I think that's kind of it. Anything else you wanna add?

Michael Jamin:
That's it. Everyone, thank you so much for listening. Till next time, what's our catchphrase, Phil?

Phil Hudson:
Keep writing.

Michael Jamin:
Keep writing, keep writing. Okay. Thank you. Bye.

Phil Hudson:
This has been an episode where screenwriters need to hear this with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

Author Details
For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.