What Hollywood’s Writers Actually Want

The ’07 WGA strike in Los Angeles and the accompanying solidarity march.
The ’07 WGA strike in Los Angeles and the accompanying solidarity march. Photo: Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Jonathan Handel
February 12, 2023

Confounding expectations, the Director’s Guild told members last week that it would wait until “later this spring” to negotiate new TV and theatrical contracts, which expire June 30. “Later” most likely means the Writers Guild will negotiate first—its contract expires May 1—which increases the likelihood of a WGA strike. The writers are frustrated and united, as they showed in their successful 2018-2020 battle against the talent agencies and at a lively member meeting yesterday that attracted about 500 writers.

Will they strike? Predictions are fraught, but the negotiations will certainly be hard fought. In 2020, the pandemic undercut a walkout threat and, said WGA negotiating committee member Ashley Gable in her 2022 candidate statement, “our most critical issues were left unaddressed until [the 2023] negotiation.” 

What are those issues? The WGA declined to say, but members who attended yesterday’s meeting told Puck that wage increases and so-called mini rooms are key concerns. The guild is still formulating its “pattern of demands,” but I developed the following guide based on source interviews, past negotiations, 2020 emails from the guild to members, and the most recent WGA West board and East council candidate statements. Here are the likely theaters of war in advance of talks—and a possible walkout.