Writers Guild of America Votes to Authorize Strike
Members of the Writers Guild of America union have voted to go on strike if a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is not reached by May 1st.
Union members overwhelmingly supported the decision with nearly 98% of them voting for it, setting records on participation and percentage of support.
Why is a Strike Looming?
With the streaming model taking over a large portion of the entertainment model, the Writers Guild of America union wants a new contract that represents that.
Thus, they have broken their pattern of demands down into three major sections: compensation & residuals, pension plan & health fund, and professional standards & protections in the employment of writers.
For compensation & residuals, WGA’s demands are:
- Increase minimum compensation significantly
- Standardize compensation and residual terms for features whether released theatrically or streaming
- Address the abuses of mini-rooms
- Ensure appropriate television series writing compensation throughout the entire process of pre-production, production, and post-production
- Expand span protections to cover all TV writers
- Apply MBA minimums to comedy-variety programs made for new media
- Increase residuals for under-compensated reuse markets
- Increase uncompensated use of excerpts
For pension plan & health fund, WGA’s demands are:
- Increase contributions to pension plan & health fund
For professional standards & protections in the employment of writers, WGA’s demands are:
- For feature contracts in which compensation falls below a specific threshold, require weekly compensation and a minimum of two steps
- Strengthen regulation of options and exclusivity in television writer employment contracts
- Regulate the use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies
- Enact measures to combat discrimination and harassment and to promote pay equity
- Revise and expand all arbitrator lists
Despite the lengthy list of demands, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers stated that they expected a strike authorization, claiming the vote “has always been part of WGA’s plan… before the parties even exchanged proposals.”
Past Strike Authorizations
This is not the first time that the Writers Guild of America has voted to authorize a strike as it’s happened three times this decade.
The last authorization vote was in 2017 when around 96% of members voted to authorize a strike. However, the strike was averted when a new contract was completed in the 11th hour.
Ten years prior, a strike did occur. The 2007 WGA strike lasted 100 days and caused a major shake-up in Hollywood.
Many movies and shows got either delayed or canceled, while late-night talk show hosts often paid non-unionized workers out of pocket to prevent layoffs. It also fueled a rise of unscripted reality TV shows as it allowed studios to produce content without the need for writers.
Hollywood’s biggest events such as the Golden Globes had to be canceled and stripped down to a press conference instead.
Effect on Los Angeles
A writer’s strike would have a significant effect on the city of Los Angeles as it would put a halt to one of the biggest industries in the area.
The 2007 WGA strike cost an estimated $2.1 billion to the LA economy. A 2023 one could have devastating effects considering inflation and how the entertainment industry briefly shut down to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, nearly 40,000 jobs either directly or indirectly tied to the industry were lost. However, 2023’s economic outlook isn’t as dire as the Great Recession was at the time of the 2007 strike.
The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers have until May 1st to strike a deal before a possible strike occurs.
For our members, certain deals from studios to use commercial space may be put on hold as a result of the looming strike. Thus, a stoppage in production would have a widespread impact on the Los Angeles area and businesses in it.
Until then, keep up with BOMA on the Frontline for the latest news in Greater Los Angeles.