Writers strike expands beyond LA, NYC

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Writers Guild-West held an action in Santa Fe on May 26 that disrupted production of two streaming shows: “American Primeval” and “Outer Range.” The entrance to Santa Fe University of Art and Design, also the location of Greer Garson Studios, was picketed from early morning to 4 p.m.

Striking writers picket shows in Santa Fe, New Mexico, blocking studio attempts to move production away from strikebound Los Angeles, May 26, 2023. (WW Photo: Stephanie Hedgecoke)

Striking writers were joined by local members of the Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE); the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which is currently holding a strike authorization vote; and other unions. Others who joined in support included well-known Cheyenne and Arapaho “Dark Winds” director Chris Eyre and several local and Southwest-based best-selling authors. Together on the line they chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, corporate greed has got to go” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, mini-rooms have got to go.”

WGA-West is focusing on stopping studios from moving work to New Mexico from Los Angeles. Several productions have been shut down with flying pickets sent to production sites at 3 a.m. Earlier in the week WGA strikers disrupted filming of “Duster” in Albuquerque with a 3:45 a.m. action. The Santa Fe action was coordinated by longtime WGA member George R.R. Martin and WGA-West representatives.

On strike since May 1, WGA-West and WGA-East are fighting for decent compensation in the midst of an entertainment industry restructuring. The growth of streaming over network programming, the replacement of long-term series with miniseries, and the use of “mini-rooms,” where writers create episodes for only a short number of weeks but are not involved in the full production of a show, have all cut into WGA members’ income and future work potential. Writers fear being turned into gig workers and/or being replaced altogether by artificial intelligence.

But the strike remains solid, as shown by the union’s ability to bring the picket line to New Mexico and other locations outside Los Angeles and New York City where studios are concentrated.

Martha Grevatt contributed to this article. 

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