Television and movie writers, currently on their 101st day of strike, have agreed to restart negotiations with studios for a new three-year contract. The Writers Guild of America negotiating committee expressed their readiness to make a fair deal, stating that they have the support of the unified W.G.A. membership and the ongoing support of their union allies. The negotiations are set to take place in Los Angeles on Friday. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents entertainment companies, declined to comment on the matter.
The decision to return to the bargaining table is a significant development in the ongoing labor strike, which has brought Hollywood production to a standstill. The strike began in mid-July and has also involved tens of thousands of actors. Late-night television shows went off the air immediately, and broadcast networks have had to make adjustments to their fall seasons by including more reality series. Last week’s meeting between the lead negotiators from both sides was the first time they had met in person since talks collapsed on May 1. The meeting aimed to determine if there was room for further negotiations, considering the impact the strike was having on companies and writers. Pressure has been mounting from various sources to reach an agreement.
The mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, emphasized the urgency of resolving the strike, stating her willingness to personally engage with stakeholders to help find a solution. Screenwriters and actors are concerned about not receiving their fair share of the profits in the streaming-dominated future. They argue that the business practices of the streaming era have made their profession unsustainable. Streaming shows typically have fewer episodes per season compared to traditional television, affecting writers’ residual pay, which is a crucial source of income. Writers are fighting for better compensation for reruns and other showings, highlighting the need for a fair distribution of funds in the streaming industry.
Additionally, the Writers Guild is pushing for studios to ensure that artificial intelligence does not infringe on writers’ credits and compensation. The guild’s proposed safeguards were rejected by the studios, who instead suggested an annual meeting to discuss technological advancements. However, studio executives have recently acknowledged that they should have taken the union’s concerns about artificial intelligence more seriously.
The studios defended their offer after negotiations broke down, claiming that it included generous increases in compensation for writers. The main points of contention are the union proposals that require studios to staff TV shows with a certain number of writers for a specific period, regardless of the actual need for them.
Caught in the middle of the strike between the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA (the actors’ guild) are tens of thousands of crew members and small businesses that support the movie and television production industry. The strike in 2007-2008 cost the California economy over $2 billion, and it is estimated that the losses this time could be even higher, possibly doubling that figure, according to the Milken Institute.