With the announcement of a Writers Guild of America strike, The Animation Guild stands in solidarity with WGA members. We recognize their invaluable contributions to the entertainment industry, and as fellow Union members, we support their demands in their collective fight to win a fair contract from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). We know many of you are wondering how the strike affects you and your work. Here, we answer the most commonly asked questions.
How does the WGA strike affect you as a TAG member?
Most animation writing work in Los Angeles County is performed under The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, agreements. These contracts are separate from the WGA contract. If you are working under a TAG contract, you can continue working.
What if I am working on a show or production with WGA writers?
Several productions where animation work is covered under TAG collective bargaining agreements are also staffed by WGA writers. You can continue performing your work duties as requested, but do not perform any WGA covered work. Remember, struck work can include small requests like, “can you punch up this joke?” If you are approached to do WGA work, please contact TAG Business Representative Steve Kaplan at Steve.Kaplan@tag839.org. Also, be prepared that you may face a picket line at your studio and be asked to honor it.
What should I do if there is a picket line outside of my studio? Will I be protected for honoring it?
It’s your personal decision to choose whether to cross the picket line or honor it. Honoring a picket line shows your support for the WGA writers, their union, and the labor movement. The TAG agreements do not expressly prohibit employees from honoring lawful picket lines. Therefore, employees working under the agreement retain their right granted by the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) to honor a lawful picket line. However, should you honor the picket line, it is the employer’s right to temporarily and/or permanently replace you through due process.
Can my employer fire me if I honor a lawful picket line?
Under existing law, employers have a legal right to temporarily replace any employee who refuses to cross a picket line with employees who are willing to work. Different laws apply depending on whether the strike is considered economic or in protest of unfair labor practices. The WGA strike would most likely be considered an economic strike.
What if I work remotely? Am I protected for honoring a picket line if I don’t have to cross one physically?
Workers who are remote are not presented with a picket line. Therefore, they should continue to work. Unless a worker encounters a physical picket line, they may continue their work. Any collective work-stoppage may become a plausible violation of a collective bargaining agreement.
What about virtual picket lines?
We are not currently aware of any virtual picket lines. IATSE Vice President Michael Miller has explained that there is NO LAW on “virtual pickets”; no definition of “virtual pickets” and workers should be careful when withholding services in response to a virtual picket. This is a gray area and is untested. If workers honor any so-called virtual picket, they must advise their supervisor that they are withholding services for that reason.
What if someone offers me work that is covered under the WGA agreement?
We need to support all union workers exercising their right to strike to achieve the best contract. If you are approached to do WGA work, please contact TAG Business Representative Steve Kaplan at Steve.Kaplan@tag839.org. This includes both animation and live-action WGA-contracted work.
As a TAG member, can I continue to develop animated shows?
As a TAG member, you can continue to meet, pitch, and develop animated shows at TAG and non-union studios/production companies. You should NOT meet, pitch, or develop with companies about WGA covered work. That is struck work. For additional guidance, review the Animation section of the WGA Strike FAQs at www.wgacontract2023.org/strike/strike-rules-faq. Visit animationguild.org/studios/ for a list of productions and studios covered under the TAG agreement.
I’m a dual member of both TAG and WGA. Can I continue to meet, pitch, develop, and sell shows at TAG signatory studios?
A TAG member can take TAG covered work. However, while it is allowed, it is also important to understand that TAG signatory studios are likely part of larger companies that have WGA agreements. Your lawful and rightful work can be perceived as harming the WGA through this lens. If you are a dual card holder, please make your decisions based on your needs, and feel free to reach out to Steve Kaplan and/or the WGA for more discussion.
Can I take non-union work?
The Animation Guild has no prohibitions on taking non-union work. (If you are a dual member of the WGA and TAG, please consult a WGA captain.)
I’m a dual member of both TAG and WGA. Can I continue to work on a TAG show?
Yes. As a TAG member on a current TAG show, you can continue to work. That is NOT considered struck work.
As a writer, I’m hearing a lot of conflicting information. Who do I trust?
Please defer to the WGA board, negotiations committee and captains. They will have the most up-to-date information on where the WGA stands and what their Legal Department has advised. When in doubt, consider the end goal. Strikes are not easy, and they are always painful. The goal is to hurt the studios and anything that allows the studios to make money allows them to hold out longer.
How can I support WGA members?
Show solidarity on social media.
Show the AMPTP that all Union members stand strong together by posting your support on your social media. Use the graphic provided with the hashtag #WGAStrong, and make sure to tag @animationguild (Twitter and Instagram), @WritersGuildWest (Instagram), and @WGAWest (Twitter).
Join WGA members on the picket line.
If WGA members march on a picket line, you can show your Union solidarity by marching with them. This does not mean that you are going on strike. Evenings, weekends, lunch hours, days off—show up and show your support, and wear your TAG t-shirt! You can find times and locations of picket lines here.