On Friday, May 19, a group of WGA writers has done an amazing job of uniting the generations. In front of the Paramount offices, a Star Trek-themed picket convened, spread through word of mouth and the use of invitation only channels. During the four-hour picket block, actors, crew, and of course, writers, and more Star Trek fans came out to show solidarity. Carlos Cisco, one of the writers of Star Trek: Discovery and a strike captain, took the time to talk to me on the phone about what it took to set up the strike that day, and why Star Trek is a emblematic franchise for this movement.
Cisco first explained that during 2007-2008 WGA strike, there were several picket themes–including a Star Trek picket, but that was before the JJ Abrams movies, and walking left the TV completely with the conclusion of Enterprise two years ago. This year, “Kiley Rossetter [a Story Editor on Star Trek: Picard] saw a bunch of Star Trek line writers,” Cisco explainedand from there it seems natural to get people on board with a Star Trek picket themed. It was big in 2007, and Cisco is sure it’s even bigger now. “All these people are still around and working. What a wonderful event to bring together all these writers from different generations.”
And it is. Apart from the large turnout of writers and actors from across the franchise, with crowd including people like David Weddle, Jeri Ryan, Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jonathan DeLuca, and Michael Okuda. Support came from everyone. “We want to send the message that we are all here bravely standing together, united. All these different artists in different disciplines, writers, actors, you know, production designers, craftsmen, all these things and we just want to keep the unity of the workers,” Cisco said.
Star Trek has, according to Cisco, one of the most pro-union television episodes out there–“The Bar Association” from Deep Space Nine, written by Robert Wilson. “Star Trek, like a kind of philosophical concept, represents where we want to be in terms of a more fair and egalitarian society. Even in his own universe the characters are not perfect and the society is constantly challenged, which I think is a good reminder that even if we think we live in good times not to be complacent. As a series, throughout its history, it has constantly pushed the boundaries of representation and diversity. It doesn’t always hit the mark with historical benchmarks, but I think when it does today, it’s always pushing the boundaries. And so I think that, to me, is what makes the franchise so powerful.
When asked what people can do to help while the strike continues, Cisco said that sending water to the picket lines—especially as strikes extend into the summer months—could be one of the best ways to directly support those on the line. He also mentioned that donations should go to Entertainment Community Fund, which supports non-WGA entertainment workers who are off the job while the WGA is on strike. “If you want to support writers, support the people who all support us.”
“None of us wanted to do it, but it had to. And seeing the solidarity we had from all the other guilds, from people in the community, from aspiring writers before the WGA , and even people who just want to be on television… This fight right now is the same fight as everyone else. It’s a work fight,” Cisco said. “In many ways, [this action] can be like a precursor to many other things other unions are dealing with. I think it is [strike] there are big implications for that.”
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