WGA — The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is a labor union representing writers in the motion picture, television, and new media industries.
Its mission is to protect and advance the economic and creative rights of its members through collective bargaining, legal action, and public advocacy.
For the first time since 2007, the WGA is set to go on strike.
The collective decision could bring another halt to the production of several televisions.
Additionally, it could delay the onset of new seasons for other shows later in 2023.
“Though we negotiated intent on making a fair deal… the studios’ responses to our proposals have been wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing,” the union leadership said in a statement.
“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 strike and AMPTP
The WGA tweeted that union members would go on strike around 3 am Tuesday.
However, the WGA would not picket lines until the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) is negotiating on behalf of studio management.
The organization said it was willing to improve its initial offer, but they would not meet some of the union’s demands.
The management’s negotiating committee released a statement saying:
“The primary sticking points are ‘mandatory staffing,’ and ‘duration of employment’ – Guild proposals that would require a company to staff a show with a certain number of writers for a specified period of time, whether needed or not.”
“Member companies remain united in their desire to reach a deal that is mutually beneficial to writers and the health and longevity of the industry, and to avoid hardship to the thousands of employees who depend upon the industry for their livelihoods.”
The gap in agreement between the WAG and AMPTP indicates the strike could be a long one.
The last strike that occurred was in November 2007, extending into February 2008.
According to the AMPTP, there were no scheduled talks for Tuesday after conversations broke off more than three hours before the strike deadline on Monday night.
What happens to the shows?
Several shows on cable and broadcast networks completed production for the final episodes of the current seasons.
However, viewers could see late night shows, daytime soap operas, and other shows hit an abrupt end to their season as the WAG go on strike.
According to sources, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” is set to air repeat episodes due the WAG strike.
Show host Seth Meyers was hesitant as an SNL writer in the 2007 strike.
However, he prepared his viewers that Late Night with Seth Meyers wouldn’t go on air if a strike occurred.
The WAG strike may feel necessary, but it also comes at a time when financial pain is rampant.
The multi-employer contract stands between the WGA and AMPTP represents the following:
- NBC Universal
- Paramount Global
- Warner Bros. Discovery
Many of the aforementioned companies witnessed stock price drops, leading to deep cost cutting like layoffs.
However, writers can’t support themselves with their work.
They are suffering from a lack of job opportunities and the loss of income sources due to an industry shift that went from traditional broadcast and cable programming to streaming services.
The gap between the WAG and AMPTP includes several complex rules and contract provisions that make little sense to outsiders, but it still boils down to money.
The WGA released a summary of their bargaining positions, saying the union’s proposals would give writers as a group over $429 million annually.
Meanwhile, AMPTP’s offer is only $86 million a year.
AMPTP questioned the estimates, highlighting that it’s hypothetical due to not knowing how many movies and shows would be either ordered or renewed in the three years of the contract.
Not all members of the WGA are currently working, but the strike could affect thousands of other workers on the sets of shows and movies.
It could also lead to broader implications for the industry, economies of Southern California and other locations like New York City.
According to an AMPTP estimate, over 20,000 people working on as many as 600 productions could be out of work if the writers shut production down.