U.S. Writers Strike Begins


Members of the Writers Guild in the U.S. are officially on strike after the union was unable to come to a new agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Negotiations between the WGA Negotiating Committee and Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, NBCUniversal, Paramount and Sony—under the umbrella of the AMPTP—have been underway for the last six weeks.

“Over the course of the negotiation, we explained how the companies’ business practices have slashed our compensation and residuals and undermined our working conditions,” WGA said in a statement. “Our chief negotiator, as well as writers on the committee, made clear to the studios’ labor representatives that we are determined to achieve a new contract with fair pay that reflects the value of our contribution to company success and includes protections to ensure that writing survives as a sustainable profession. We advocated on behalf of members across all sectors: features, episodic television and comedy-variety and other non-prime-time programs, by giving them facts, concrete examples and reasonable solutions.”

Close to 98 percent of guild members supported the strike authorization. WGA says that the studio’s response to its proposals has been “wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing.” The guild adds: “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing. From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a ‘day rate’ in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”

The AMPTP said in its own statement that it had “presented a comprehensive package proposal” encompassing “generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals. The AMPTP also indicated that it is prepared to improve that offer, but was unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the Guild continues to insist upon.” Per AMPTP, those include “mandatory staffing” and “duration of employment”: “Proposals that would require a company to staff a show with a certain number of writers for a specific period of time, whether needed or not.”

AMPTP says it is willing to engage in discussions “to break this logjam” and “avoid hardship to the thousands of employees who depend upon the industry for their livelihoods.”

The last writers strike in the U.S. ran from November 2007 to February 2008 and cost the entertainment industry some $2 billion.