Last Friday, May 19, a group of WGA writers were able to pull off an incredible act of solidarity across generations. In front of Paramount offices, a Star Trek-themed picket convened, spread by word of mouth and utilizing invitation only channels. Over the course of the four-hour picket block, actors, crewmembers, and of course, writers, and plenty of Star Trek fans came out in a show of solidarity. Carlos Cisco, one of the writers on Star Trek: Discovery and a strike captain, took some time to talk to me on the phone about what it took to set up the strike that day, and why Star Trek is an emblematic franchise for this movement.
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Cisco first explained that during the 2007-2008 WGA strike, there were a few themed pickets–including a Star Trek picket, but that was before the J.J. Abrams movies, and Trek had left TV entirely with the conclusion of Enterprise two years prior. This year, “Kiley Rossetter [a Story Editor on Star Trek: Picard] had seen a bunch of Star Trek writers on the line,” Cisco explained, and from there it seemed natural to get people on board with a Star Trek themed picket. It was huge in 2007, and Cisco was sure it was going to be even bigger now. “All these people are still around and working. What an event it would be to bring all of these writers from across different generations together.”
And it was. Besides the massive turnout of writers and actors from across the franchise, with the crowd including people like David Weddle, Jeri Ryan, Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jonathan DeLuca, and Michael Okuda. Support came from all over. “We wanted to send the message that we’re all here boldly standing together, united. All these different artists across various disciplines, writers, actors, you know, production designers, craftsmen, all these things and we just wanted to kind of keep the worker solidarity in focus,” said Cisco.
Star Trek has, according to Cisco, one of the most pro-union episodes of television out there–“The Bar Association” from Deep Space Nine, written by Robert Wilson. “Star Trek, just as a sort of philosophical concept, represents where we want to be in terms of a more equal and egalitarian society. Even in it’s own universe the characters are imperfect and society is always challenged, which I think is a good reminder that even when we think we’re living in good times to not get complacent. As a series, throughout its history, it has always pushed the bounds of representation and diversity. Not not always hitting the mark by historical standards, but I think when it is current, it’s always pushing those boundaries. And so I think that’s, for me, what makes the the franchise so powerful.”
When asked what people can do to help as the strike continues, Cisco said that sending water to the picket lines–especially as the strikes looks to extend into the summer months–would be one of the best ways to directly support those on the line. He also mentioned that donations should go to the Entertainment Community Fund, which supports non-WGA entertainment workers out of the job as the WGA is on strike. “If you want to support the writers, support the people that are all supporting us.”
“None of us want to be doing this, but it’s necessary. And seeing the solidarity that we have from all the other guilds, from people in the community, from those who are pre-WGA aspiring writers, and even just people who just like television… This fight right now is the same fight that everybody else is fighting in labor,” Cisco said. “In a lot of ways, [this action] is going to kind of be like a precursor to a lot of other stuff that other unions are dealing with. I think that this [strike] is going to have major implications for that.”
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