WGA’s Chris Keyser Issues Defiant Call For Solidarity As Strike Enters Second Month; Accuses AMPTP Of Lying & Vows To Fight On Even If DGA & SAG-AFTRA Make Deals

In a defiant clarion call for continued solidarity and endurance as the Writers Guild’s strike enters its second month, WGA negotiating committee co-chair Chris Keyser says in a new video that the guild’s fight for a fair contract is not one that’s being fought for writers alone, but for the entire labor movement.

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“When you walk in circles in front of every studio in town,” he tells the guild’s members in the clip (watch it below), “you are carrying with you a cause that is larger than just us and this business, though just us and this business would have been enough. We are marching for labor, and labor is watching us.

“We have, it turns out to our great fortune, something very precious: we have a strong union in a heavily unionized industry. We have what many workers in this country do not. If we succeed, we will make it easier – not easy – but easier, for others to succeed after us. If we falter, if we fail, if it is the companies’ power that wins the day, not ours, then we will have failed for everyone. We will have made it harder for everyone.”

Keyser, a former president of the WGA West, says that the strike, which began May 2, has been “highly accomplished in inflicting pain on the companies,” and vowed that the WGA will continue with the strike even if the Directors Guild and SAG-AFTRA reach their own separate deals with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The DGA is currently in contract negotiations with the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA, which is currently seeking strike authorization from its members, is scheduled to begin negotiations with the AMPTP on June 7. Their contracts both expire June 30.

Keyser also accused the AMPTP of lying about being too busy to return to the bargaining table with the WGA. “They claim that they don’t have time for us, that they’re busy,” he said. “That’s a lie. It’s just a lie. They could talk to us if they want. This is their strategy, such as it is. The same old strategy, but it’s not going to work.”

See Keyser’s remarks here:


He also vowed that this strike won’t end the way the WGA’s 100-day strike of 2007-08 did, when the DGA made a deal with the AMPTP on the 73rd day of the writers’ strike on streaming residuals that forced the WGA end its strike and accept similar terms.

“If [AMPTP President] Carol Lombardini thinks negotiating with the DGA while we’re out on strike is some kind of trump card,” Keyser said, “she’s going to find out that her 2007-08 playbook doesn’t belong in the negotiating room; it belongs in a museum. Any deal that puts this town back to work runs straight through the WGA and there is no way around us.”

RELATED: WGA, Saying “Era Of Divide & Conquer Is Over,” Accuses AMPTP Of “Gaslighting” Union Members & Telling A “Lie” About The Breakdown Of Contract Talks

“We wish the DGA the best in their negotiations,” he continued. “That goes for SAG-AFTRA as well. We are infinitely grateful to all of their members who have marched with us every day. And we are rooting hard for them to exercise their power and achieve the contracts they deserve. They are hurting, just like we are. They are at risk, just like we are. SAG-AFTRA’s strike authorization vote should send shivers down the companies’ spine.”

“The month of June will bring us all some answers,” he said. “By the time it’s over, the companies may find themselves embattled on more than one front, or we alone may be without a contract. And either way, we will fight on with this understanding: we are girded by an alliance with our sister guilds and unions, and they give us strength. But we are strong enough. We have always been strong enough to get the deal we need using writer power alone. We were strong enough in 2007-08; we were strong enough during the agency campaign; we are strong enough now.

“As (WGA negotiating committee co-chair) David Goodman and I have said from the very beginning, the single thing that will determine whether we succeed or fail in this strike is our endurance, both physical and emotional. I have no doubt about that endurance. Writers’ strength of character aside, the companies have made us strong. They have taught us, however painfully, to withstand months and months without work. Their abuse of us has made it untenable to rush back to jobs that may not even be there in a year or two, in a career in which even success if financially unsustainable. But even as we endure, there will be challenges. It will be painful. Uncertainty is painful. Is there anyone of us who doesn’t wake up feeling the weight of this every day? I don’t think so.”

Insisting that the guild is not simply waiting for the AMPTP to decide when to restart negotiations, Keyser said: “We are negotiating now. Every day, we are negotiating. We are making the only argument the companies can hear: the argument of power. We are withholding our work; disrupting productions; talking to Wall Street, city hall, Sacramento and Washington, DC. We are bringing allies to our cause. This is the work. This is the leverage. It is the same in any strike, and it will take time. But if we believe the central truth of our cause, that it all starts with writing and that nothing happens without it, then we have to trust that truth and stay the course. “

With the strike now in its fifth week, he said that “We have walked together on picket lines for a month. With the acknowledgment that there is no letting up until we ultimately achieve the contract we deserve and which we need to survive in this business, I will say that we should all take a minute to appreciate what we’ve accomplished. We have been highly accomplished in inflicting pain on the companies by withholding our work, by picketing itself, publicly demonstrating our resolve, our endurance, our sometimes even joyful commitment to a joyless task, by bringing to our side a coalition of labor that this town has not seen in generations. By disrupting production in concert with those union allies who honor our lines, and by informing investors and advertisers of those disruptions.

“Our message has power because it’s true. We believe in it because we know it’s true. But that only goes so far. What has real power, what moves people, what will move this town one day is our belief in each other. So thank you. All of you. All our picket site coordinators; all our incredible captains; every single member who has spoken with their feet as well as their feet who has stuck with the letter as well as the spirit of the strike rules. Thank you to guild staff who have gone above and beyond and then beyond that. Thank you to the other guilds and unions – the Teamsters, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, the musicians, the electrical workers, the plasterers, the laborers, the DGA and everyone else who has sent a message to the companies with their solidarity.

“What have the companies been doing in the meantime? Well, they’ve been putting out heartfelt statements from their executives that they truly hope that the strike can be resolved quickly for everyone’s benefit. Which is weird. They hope? Aren’t these their companies? Don’t they know where to find us? We are, after all, right outside their gates.”

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