The must-experience event of the summer is the Writers Guild of America strike, in that we must experience it in order to sustain TV and film writing as a career. Everyone who’s anyone is at a picket every day, flashing their most fashionable UV-protective clothing and rocking their most arch-supporting sneakers.
Whether you’re a current or aspiring WGA member, part of another union, or just a random person grabbing a coffee, we’d love to see you out on the line! But like any social engagement/labor action, following some best practices will ensure you have a fantastic and, more importantly, disruptive-of-the-corporations’-bottom-line time.
Labels are always chic. Specifically, the WGA label. Whether it’s vintage (from an earlier strike) or a fresh cut, official swag lets everyone know whose side you’re on. But while WGA pride is commended, stench is not. Wash your shirt(s) regularly, and rotate with non-WGA shirts as needed.
To complete your look, you can purchase shirts designed by WGA members and printed by union workers. But under no circumstances should you order a strike shirt on Amazon. They’re already trying to replace writers with AI; don’t buy into more of their cheap knockoffs.
Witty homemade signs are encouraged. A good formula to follow: TV/movie quote + labor rights (think: “I’m just a girl, standing in front of the studios, asking for a fair contract”). Bonus points for elegant script, glitter, or an attempt at artistic flair. Signs that are not witty but bluntly state workers deserve fair wages are also welcome. After all, until we get paid, the studios don’t deserve our A game.
A dog with a funny sign or adorable WGA-clad outfit will be instantly beloved and heralded by everyone. Suggestions: “Pens down, paws up;” “Pay writers! Sniff butts!”—and this classic: “Their offer sounds good…for me to poop on!”
The most elegant picketers are the ones who look like a one-person band. Tambourines, bullhorns, and cowbells (we do, in fact, need more cowbell) transform a picket into a full-body sensory experience. Just don’t blow a noisemaker directly in anyone’s ears. (It’s rude.)
To boost morale, BYO strike playlist. Recommendations include classics like Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money” and new classics like Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul.” And if you drive past a picket line, honk! For once, it’s the polite thing to do.
Discerning solidarity connoisseurs know pizza and donut donations are quickly becoming cliché. (Sorry, Flavor Flav.) Break the mold with symbolism-driven snacks. Maybe smoothies to show how we’re all getting squeezed by shrinking room sizes. Or Hot Pockets, to represent how the studios’ offer is full of garbage.
And only take your fair share of snacks…until it’s the end of the day, and there’s a whole pizza left. Then go to town. Food waste is almost as unconscionable as mini-rooms!
Plus-ones are strongly encouraged. Plus-twos and plus-threes and plus-100s? Even better. Bring friends, family, coworkers. Just don’t bring your hot takes (no, the strike isn’t “actually good for the studios”—it’s costing them as much as $30 million a day). Respect your strike captains and staff members, whether they’re leading you safely across an intersection or in a Newsies sing-a-long. (That actually happened.)
Celebrity sightings are a given—after all, SAG-AFTRA may be next. (Who knew us writers were such trendsetters?). New Yorkers will largely ignore their presence; the only A-lister they’ll deign to acknowledge is Scabby the Rat. But keen Angelenos know that if a celeb is nearby, that may mean they’ve graciously sent over a food truck. And nothing makes a writer more starstruck than free lunch. (Again: we’re writers, not actors.)
Keep the vibes positive. To quote The Hunger Games, remember who the real enemy is: corporate greed. (Remember: movie quote + labor issue = good sign!) The exception to this rule is any multimillionaire entertainment CEO: go ahead and boo them. Or send a plane with the banner “Pay Your Writers” to fly over their commencement speech.