The midnight deadline has now passed and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is officially on strike after failing to reach a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), as reported by the Associated Press. Writers for television shows and movies have taken to the picket lines today to protest the studios’ failure to meet their contract demands.
In a message sent to its members, the WGA stated:
“Though we entered negotiations with the intention of making a fair deal – and even though your strike vote provided us with the leverage to secure some gains – the studios’ responses to our proposals have been utterly insufficient, considering the existential crisis writers are facing.” The guild leadership continued, “We must now exercise the maximum leverage possible to obtain a fair contract by withholding our labor. Members of the Negotiating Committee, Board, and Council will join you on the picket lines.”
As a consequence, variety shows and late-night talk shows will be the first television programs to go off-air. Daytime talk shows will also be affected. WGA members were instructed to cease working on all scripts immediately.
In response to the growth of streaming content, the WGA demands an increase in minimum pay, compulsory staffing, shorter exclusive contracts, and a reconfiguration of residual pay. However, the AMPTP accuses the WGA of not being willing to compromise on some key issues, according to Variety.
“The AMPTP submitted a comprehensive package proposal to the Guild last night, which included significant increases in compensation for writers as well as enhancements in streaming residuals,” the organization stated. “The AMPTP also indicated to the WGA that it is prepared to improve that offer but was reluctant to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table, which the Guild continues to insist upon.”
Negotiations between both parties have been ongoing since March 20. The WGA contends that many of its members are not earning as much as they should be, particularly given the substantial profits studios are generating from streaming services.
Abbott Elementary writer Brittani Nicholas voiced her frustration in a recent Tweet about the show’s season 2 finale triumph.
“Good thing I, as the writer of this episode, do not benefit from this success because of the current streaming residuals model.”
The Guild points out that an increasing number of writers, including many showrunners who have creative control and oversee television shows, are working at scale due to streaming. This strike represents the WGA’s first in 15 years.