WGA Writers on Strike Over Streaming, AI and Preserving the Writers' Room
Posted on May 2, 2023
The Writers Guild is now on strike after a late Monday night attempt at a deal failed. This means production of films and TV shows will shut down. Late night programs will also come to a halt without writers.
This is the first strike since the 100 day strike of 2007 to 2008 which was estimated to cost the Los Angeles economy billions and interrupted numerous TV series. Writers successfully fought that strike on the picket lines and with blog posts and YouTube videos. The Writer Boi anthem was one of our favorite videos from that fight.
Things are incredibly different for striking writers in 2023. The were concerns in 2008 about getting residuals from DVD and Blu-ray sales. Streaming is how people watch movies and TV shows today and writers don't even necessarily know how often the work they contributed to is watched. There are concerns about how AI will be used to create content. There are also concerns about studios attempting to turn writing into a gig economy.
The WGA says in a statement, "Though we negotiated intent on making a fair deal-and though your strike vote gave us the leverage to make some gains-the studios' responses to our proposals have been wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing."
The WGA argues that the AMPTP wants to turn the writing profession into an entirely freelance profession. They write, "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."
The WGA released a document of its proposals. The PDF file shows a need to preserve the writers' room, increase staff writer pay, establish viewership-based streaming residuals and regulate the use of artificial intelligence. On some of the issues the AMPTP has rejected the WGA's proposals and refused to make a counter offer.
The WGA says its proposals would gain writers about $429 million per year. They say the AMPTP's latest offer was about $86 million per year about half of which is from the minimums increase.