Writers Guild Strike Hits DC With Protests at Marvel Movie Location

June 29, 2023 by Carter Schaffer
Writers Guild Strike Hits DC With Protests at Marvel Movie Location
(Photo by Carter Schaffer)

WASHINGTON — Members of the Writers Guild of America and their allies used the filming of a new Marvel franchise feature near the White House as a platform for airing their grievances and marking the start of the eighth week of their prolonged strike.

Gathered at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, just across the street from the location shoot, the protesters shouted “pay our writers” and “shut it down” whenever they had a sense that the cameras were rolling.

Dawn Ennis, member of Writers Guild of America East, said she has been a member since 1987 and this is the group’s second major strike against Hollywood.

“What we’re trying to do is get a fair contract that allows writers to write and not have to become the gig economy,” Ennis told The Well News at the scene.

“We want to have jobs. We don’t want to have just assignments, and we won’t want to have AI doing our jobs,” she added.

The strike started on May 2 after the writers failed to reach a satisfactory agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

In addition to their concerns over potentially being replaced by AI, the writers are also seeking to hammer out a deal on residual payments from streaming media, and requirements for “mandatory staffing” and “duration of employment” terms to be added to their contracts. 

The producers’ alliance members include Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony, according to the WGA.

Among other things, in a press release the WGA has accused the producers of creating “a gig economy inside a union workforce,” essentially opening the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession.”

The WGA also said in the press release that the AMPTP has stonewalled it “on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers.”

Ennis said she was told the group wanted to protest at the set, but the police said they could not be in that space.

“They refused to allow us to protest near the set,” Ennis said. “So they cordoned us into this little corner here, and that’s where we’ve been all night.”

The protestors had an encounter with park police at 10 p.m. Wednesday night, although after three minutes of talking, no further action occurred.

The Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East are both labor unions representing writers in film, television, radio and online media since 1954. The east group is located in New York while the west is located in Los Angeles, California.

The strikes have halted or slowed productions for movies and television series, programs and talk shows. Picketing events have been held — primarily in New York and Los Angeles — with some actors joining the strikers through picketing or speaking out.

President Joe Biden commented on the strikes in May at a White House screening of “American Born Chinese,” saying he hopes the strike “gets resolved” and “the writers are given a fair deal they deserve as soon as possible.”

A number of streets near the White House continue to be posted as No Emergency Parking by the Metropolitan Police Department through Friday at 7 p.m. No more road closures for the movie are scheduled.

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