Late-night comedy writers will be forgotten if the Writers Guild loses its eight-week-old strike, according to Greg Iwinski, a former author of late-night comedy writers and a member of the WGA negotiating committee The Late Show with Stephen Colbert And Last week tonight with John Oliver.
“Friends (and sometimes reporters) ask me why the writers are still so enthusiastic, so visible and so united two months after the strike began, and my answer is simple: if the alternative is to forget, then what else can you do do than fight like hell? he said in a message sent to guild members today, the 57th day of the strike. Of course, comedians tend to exaggerate, but late-night writers face oblivion if they don’t win that deal.”
Iwinski, who hosts a weekly all-volunteer comedy show on the YouTube channel about the strike — perfectly legal under WGA strike rules — wrote:
“A central battle in this strike revolves around the future of Annex A in a streamer-dominated industry.” On television, he noted, Annex A covers almost everything that isn’t a film or an episodic television show in the Guild’s contract, including Late night shows, soap operas, quizzes and variety shows, and all other non-dramatic shows.
“When we currently work for subscription streaming services, our minimum salary is fully negotiable and our balances are insufficient. The company’s response to our proposals to expand television pricing to cover these types of shows on today’s dominant content platforms was unacceptable. They would expand some terms to cover them only comedy variety shows and only Offer a weekly minimum rate (while also allowing writers to be hired at a daily rate), all at a budget level that rules out too many shows.
“The AMPTP version of a union deal would result in too many Annex A authors not receiving fair compensation on the world’s largest entertainment platforms. A world where the already short 13-week cycles are being replaced by weekly or daily contracts is a world where writers don’t have enough job security to get housing approval in the cities where these shows are being manufactured . A world where there isn’t a reasonable residual amount to recycle our work is a world where writers can’t afford to make a living. And a world where the AMPTP’s excessive budget cuts bar too many series from coverage is a world where none of the other terms matter.
“But here’s the thing: we’re going to win. Not just because you all incredible episode and screenwriters stand in step with us as one union. And not just because non-fiction writers, animation writers and news writers stand with us and affirm that writing is writing and that we are all equally in this.
“We will win because this is not just a strike. It’s a moment It’s a movement. If you’re a millennial, you know that feeling deep in your gut that a broken system has existed for too long, hurting too many, and that fate has given you the match to burn it down. This is our moment. (If you’re Gen Z, sorry about the low-rise jeans, we’re not perfect.)
“We experience solidarity not only from our fellow writers or even our creative colleagues, but from people across the country and around the world. That solidarity was evident last Wednesday in LA where over 5,000 members and allies took part in our march and rally for a fair treaty. This was felt the next day in New York City, where a dozen New York City Council members spoke at a rally in favor of a resolution demanding that the AMPTP come back to the negotiating table and make writers a fair deal.
“The AMPTP went into this summer thinking it was all business as usual. They thought we were going to break down. They thought we would make samples. They thought we were scared. They thought they were fighting a small part of “their” industry.
“Instead, they found themselves in the midst of America’s #hotlaborsummer as they attempted to routinely refuse their workers’ demands. So many of us have felt the pain of a corporate leader who neither understands nor appreciates his workforce – and sometimes his industry. This insane disregard for the craft, for career, for the dignity of work and for the appreciation of lifelong skills – it is not only anti-work, it also strikes at the spark of creativity that is in every human being. Some are surprised that the authors are still associated with so much solidarity. I’m rather surprised that the AMPTP still thinks they can win it. They thought they were fighting one of us. They fight us all.”