The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike is underway after negotiations with various studios and streaming platforms regarding royalties and residual payments have failed. Union members overwhelmingly voted to strike in mid-April, but the strike officially began when the contract expired at midnight on the morning of May 2, 2023.
A total of 9,218 writers participated in the April vote, or nearly 79% of members eligible to take part. The vote was 9,020, or 97.8%, in favor and 198 opposed.
The WGA wrote in their announcement of the strike on Monday, “Here is what all writers know: the companies have broken this business. They have taken so much from the very people, the writers, who have made them wealthy. But what they cannot take from us is each other, our solidarity, our mutual commitment to save ourselves and this profession that we love. We had hoped to do this through reasonable conversation. Now we will do it through struggle. For the sake of our present and our future, we have been given no other choice.”
They spent six weeks negotiating with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Sony under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce,” the WGA stated, “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.”
In a statement provided to Deadline, the AMPTP said they “presented a comprehensive package proposal to the Guild last night which included generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals.”
“The AMPTP 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,” they added, “and to avoid hardship to the thousands of employees who depend upon the industry for their livelihoods. The AMPTP is willing to engage in discussions with the WGA in an effort to break this logjam.”
The WGA will begin picketing this afternoon at various locations in New York and California, including at The Walt Disney Company headquarters in Burbank. Here is the complete picket schedule and locations.
In the wake of the strike, studios will be relying more heavily on unscripted content. “Dancing With the Stars” will be airing on ABC again after a year of exclusively streaming on Disney+. The strike will immediately affect scripted television like late-night shows, and potentially delay TV shows set to premiere in the fall. Long-term, the strike could also affect the film industry.