Hollywood Writers Call for Change Amidst Streaming Shift
The union representing Hollywood television and movie writers has announced that they will commence a strike, as negotiations with studios and streamers regarding compensation and other terms have concluded without a satisfactory resolution. Following a unanimous vote by board members, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has decided to call for the strike, which will commence after midnight on Tuesday.
The WGA is seeking higher pay from major studios like Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Netflix Inc (NFLX.O). This is the first work stoppage by the WGA in 15 years, and the previous strike, which lasted for 100 days, resulted in a loss of over $2 billion for the California economy.
The tweet reads, “The Board of Directors of the @WGAwest and the Council of the @WGAeast, acting upon the authority granted to them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Tuesday, May 2.” The guild posted a series of tweets. Another tweet also read, “The decision was made following six weeks of negotiating with @Netflix, @Amazon, @Apple, @Disney, @wbd, @NBCUniversal, @Paramountplus and @Sony under the umbrella of the AMPTP.”
The Board of Directors of the @WGAwest and the Council of the @WGAeast, acting upon the authority granted to them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Tuesday, May 2.— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) May 2, 2023
“Though our Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing. Picketing will begin tomorrow afternoon. #WGAStrong #WGAStrike,” read the tweet.
The Guild, which has a membership of approximately 11,500 writers based in New York, Los Angeles, and other locations, had planned to initiate picketing outside of Hollywood studios beginning Tuesday afternoon. However, negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the organization representing the studios, failed to yield a satisfactory agreement, despite the AMPTP's assertion that it had offered "generous increases in compensation" to the writers. Writers argue that their salaries have not kept pace with inflation, and that it has become increasingly difficult to make a living, particularly as employers enjoy significant profits and lavish executive compensation. In fact, more writers are being forced to work for the minimum wage mandated by the union. One of the major sticking points in the talks was the trend of TV shows hiring fewer writers for shorter periods to produce entire series.
Though our Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing.— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) May 2, 2023
The negotiations between the WGA and the studios came to a halt on Monday, with the WGA accusing the studios of attempting to establish a "gig economy" for writers, thereby transforming writing into a purely freelance profession. The WGA has proposed the implementation of new minimum numbers of writers and minimum employment periods for TV shows, as detailed in a document it released.
The AMPTP, however, has identified the WGA's demands for studios to hire a fixed number of writers "whether needed or not" as a significant point of contention. Additionally, the parties have been attempting to revise the formula that determines how writers are compensated for streaming shows, which often remain on platforms such as Netflix for several years after their creation. For decades, writers have received "residuals" for each reuse of their material, including television reruns or DVD sales.
- PTC PUNJABI