Hollywood Writers Reach Agreement as Actors Continue to Strike
On September 27th, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) officially voted to end their strike because they have reached an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Writers spent 146 days on strike to fight for better working conditions, pay, and other important rights for writers in the entertainment industry.
Members of the WGA union went on strike on May 2nd to fight for better wages, residuals, and job protection against artificial intelligence (AI). Union members of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) called for a strike in July to join the WGA in solidarity.
The WGA (founded in 1954) and SAG-AFTRA (founded in 2012) are unions for people working in the film, television, and radio industries. They work together to protect the writers’ and actors’ rights that have been won over many decades for the equitable pay, work environments, worker equality, healthcare benefits, and opportunities. Many important things would not have been recognized or achieved without these organizations.
The WGA went on strike asking the AMPTP for better pay and residuals for the shows they have written, in addition to minimum staffing requirements in the writers room on television series. AI writing software has also posed an issue for writers because studios could threaten to replace human writers with AI, the cheaper and lower-quality alternative.
According to the contract accepted by the WGA this week, wages will increase, writers’ rooms will have minimums for how many writers must be on a project, and AI will not be used as the basis of a work by studios unless individual writers prefer to use AI as a tool, in accordance with the studios’ policies.
SAG-AFTRA joined the strike in July, and are asking the AMPTP for an 11% increase in wages this year, 5% next year, and 4% in 2025 due to rising inflation. They are also asking for better residuals and different requirements for self-tape auditions. In total, around 160,000 people previously working in entertainment are withholding their work from production.
One main theme that pops up within this strike surrounds the ever-growing streaming services and platforms which are creating new series all of the time. Streaming services tend not to give much residual pay, so if a show an individual worked on does incredibly well, like Stranger Things on Netflix for instance, writers most likely will be only paid the flat rate they were given for their services.
This differs from the time of cable television because, the better a show did on-air, the more money and residuals you would get for having your work shown more often and in more places. With streaming, however, there is no system in place for writers and actors to be equitably compensated for their work like they were on cable.
Since the strike has ended for the WGA, there may be great hope for SAG-AFTRA as well! Through this strike, the lives of thousands of writers’ lives, working conditions, and compensation have been improved, and hopefully the actors in SAG-AFTRA will receive a similar, positive outcome.
If you would like to support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA or learn more, feel free to take a look at some of these additional resources:
Cover Image Credit: CNN