Over 11,000 Writers Guild of America (WGA) members are set to strike for the first time since 2007, potentially halting TV show production and delaying new seasons. Union leadership claims studios’ responses to their proposals have been inadequate. The primary sticking points are “mandatory staffing” and “duration of employment.” The strike could cause widespread economic implications to the entertainment industry, similar to the 2007 strike that caused an estimated $2-3 billion in damage.
Well-known left-wing TV programs like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and The Daily Show are halting production and broadcasting reruns, as reported by People. If the strike persists, other shows such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Real Time with Bill Maher, Saturday Night Live, and several soap operas might also feel the impact. Many of these shows are currently seeing a decline in ratings and viewership, and it’s likely that this strike will only hurt the declining late-night hosts, among others.
Picketing will begin tomorrow afternoon. #WGAStrong #WGAStrike
— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) May 2, 2023
Union leadership for the Writers Guild of America released a statement, saying:
“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,” adding, “No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”
“Though we negotiated intent on making a fair deal … the studios’ responses to our proposals have been wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing,” adding, “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.”
According to CNN:
While union members would be on strike as of 3 am EDT Tuesday, the WGA tweeted that it would not set up picket lines until Tuesday afternoon.
The distance between the two sides suggested this could be the start of a long strike. The last strike that started in November 2007 stretched 100 days into February of 2008.
Many shows on cable and broadcast networks have already filmed their final episodes for the current season, but viewers could see an impact with late night shows, daytime soap operas and shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” which could have early ends to their seasons.
The Writers Guild put out a summary of the two sides’ bargaining positions in which it says the union’s proposals would gain writers as a group about $429 million per year; AMPTP’s offer is about $86 million per year. AMPTP questioned those estimates, pointing out that it’s hypothetical because it’s unknown how many movies and shows would be ordered or renewed over the three years of the contract.
While not all members of the WGA are currently working, the strike could soon idle thousands of other workers on the sets of shows and movies. The strike could have widespread implications for the industry, and for the economies of Southern California and some other locations, such as New York City.
There could be as many as 20,000 people working on as many as 600 productions who could be out of work if the writers shutdown production, according to an estimate from AMPTP.
The 2007 strike caused an estimated $2 billion in economic damage, mostly in Southern California. Adjusted for inflation, that comes to nearly $3 billion today.
The strike initiated by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which includes over 11,000 members, poses a risk to TV show production and could result in delays for upcoming seasons, similar to the 2007 strike that led to $2-3 billion in financial losses. Well-known left-leaning TV shows, which have been struggling with reduced ratings and viewership, are ceasing production and broadcasting reruns, with possible repercussions for additional programs if the strike persists. This labor dispute might have long-term consequences for both the entertainment industry and local economies, including those in Southern California and New York City. As a large number of workers face potential unemployment and with considerable disagreement between the WGA and AMPTP’s negotiation positions, this strike highlights the mounting pressure and obstacles encountered by the entertainment sector.