Hollywood writers on strike following failed contract negotiations

The Writers Guild of America said its 11,500 unionised screenwriters will head to the picket lines today (Tuesday 2)

By Priyanca Rajput 2 May 2023

Hollywood writers on strike following failed contract negotiations
Writers Strike of 2007 outside Paramount Studios, LA. Credit: AP

The Writers Guild Of America (WGA) has voted to strike after failing to reach a new contract deal with studios. 

Film and television screenwriters are going on strike today (Tuesday 2) following a dispute over pay in the streaming age.

Negotiations between studios and the writers, which began in March, failed to reach a new contract before the writers' current deal expired.

“The WGA Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, but the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing,” the union said in a statement.

All script writing is to cease effective immediately, the guild informed its members; which will impact existing productions depending on how long the strike lasts.

The strike means production on certain broadcast shows, streaming series and potentially some films will grind to a halt.

Late-night US talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon are expected to go dark immediately and air re-runs.

Soap operas could subsequently be disrupted as they are traditionally written shortly in advance of filming. Primetime comedies and dramas currently on air should be able to wrap up seasons uninterrupted - their episodes for the coming weeks will have already been written and filmed.

The board of directors for the WGA, which includes both a West and an East branch, voted unanimously to call for a strike.

"The companies' behaviour 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," the WGA said in a statement.

"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 labour force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession.

"No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership."

The AMPTP (The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) said on Monday night that negotiations between it and the writers guild Monday failed to reach an agreement before the current deal expired. 

“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,” it said.

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