Chris Keyser, the co-chair of the Writers Guild of America negotiating committee, shared a special Labor Day video message on Monday, addressing the ongoing dual strike of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA against the Hollywood studios and encouraging a silver lining as the end date remains unclear:
“We have never been the companies’ enemies,” he said. “We are not their enemies now. We are their creative partners, first and foremost. That is our goal: to win a fair deal and to be that again. We’ll get there.”
The co-chair additionally noted that while it’s a day of celebration for many, Labor Day is “not a celebration” for the union — “not yet.”
“For us, it’s just a day off, a time to rest, rest up to finish the job. We have no choice,” he said. “We are either proof or disproof of the proposition for which we stand, which is that there are limits to how workers can be treated, that management, by siege and by silence, cannot just wait us out, and that labor, when it bans together in opposition, can have its day. For labor all across the country, this is the message: We and everyone who strikes with us are the beacon of hope. We carry the flag. On this Labor Day, the eyes of labor are on us. So tomorrow, we will pick up where we left off with a message of determination and resilience, but also of openness.”
Keyser also emphasized that members of the writers’ guild, which has been on strike since May 2, do “not write because it’s easy,” and that the same can we said of their ongoing “fight to save writing itself.”
“It’s not easy. But we have no other choice. On labor day, it’s worth remembering that,” he said. “We are not on strike out of greed, nor do we begrudge the companies their success or deny their struggles. We all must succeed together.”
As the strike enters its fourth month, Keyser did look ahead to its uncertain conclusion and offered a hopeful message: “This strike will end, and we will go back to work, and it will be better when it’s over.”
He also celebrated the way that the dual strikes have united laborers of the industry together, despite the physical, emotional and financial hardships seen by many across fields and practices.
“In a world where we’re mostly asked to take care of ourselves and maybe a small group of people around us, this is something else, something pretty rare,” he said, adding that to all workers in the industry who aren’t on strike but for “whom the strike is causing real pain, we owe you a great debt… What we promise you is this: As you have stood with us, we will stand with you one day when it is your turn. That is how labor gets its due. For all its costs, it is the only way.”
The two sides of the WGA and AMPTP remain significantly far apart, particularly as evidenced by the latest studio proposal, which was offered on Aug. 11 and universally slammed by WGA members after the companies chose to make it public.
Sources tell TheWrap that there have been no further discussions between the two sides since that meeting, though the WGA says it will “remain committed to direct negotiations with the companies.”
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