The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has now been on strike for two weeks citing that the Alliance of Movie and Television Producers (AMPTP), “refuses to negotiate a fair deal to address the existential crisis writers are facing.”
Amid the mass of striking writers outside of multiple studios on the west coast and offices and stages on the east coast, one can hear a cavalcade of honking in support of the labor dispute.
Other entertainment unions have turned out in droves to support the writer’s cause. In New York, over 1,200 people turned a midtown picket in front of HBO and Amazon headquarters into an impromptu rally. Included were leaders and members of SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity, Teamsters, one brave Amazon worker, and one vocal Mandy Patinkin.
The WGA also received public support from President Joe Biden; New York Governor Kathy Hochul; Senators Kristin Gilibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown; Representatives Ro Khanna, Katie Porter and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The studios heard from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, boss of New York’s massive state pension fund and thereby a very important and unhappy shareholder.
On May 13, in solidarity with the WGA, the Los Angeles Democratic Party moved their long-planned annual fundraising event from a soundstage at Universal Studios to the Loews Hollywood hotel.
PEN America, an organization that champions writers, had planned to present Netflix’s Ted Sarandos with its Business Visionary Award at its gala. After discussions between PEN and WGAE officers, Sarandos withdrew from the event.
Boston University still plans to honor WBD CEO David Zaslav as its commencement speaker. The guild has plans to picket the event.
Earlier today, the guild stated they would not picket the Tony Awards.
As a WGAW member told The Hollywood Reporter, “What is clear is that the AMPTP has utterly lost the PR war on this one. Or rather, the WGA has won.” Members’ individual stories of our broken system — of getting by on ten weeks of work a year, of residual checks amounting to pennies — are resonating with the public. It’s become clear that the majority of writers are a part of the ever-shrinking middle class.
Guild Estimates the Cost of Settling
Earlier today, the WGA sent out a letter to its members detailing the costs of settling the strike. The WGA estimates the proposals on the table at contract expiration on May 1 would cost the industry collectively $429 million per year, approximately $343 million of which is attributable to the guild’s eight largest employers.
“For perspective, tens of billions are spent on the programming writers create, $19 billion alone on original content for streaming services this year. And the cost of these proposed improvements is modest compared to industry revenues and profits, but are essential to writers whose pay and working conditions have eroded over the past decade,” the email stated.
What would the cost of our contract proposals currently on the table look like on a company-by-company basis? Take a look:
Based on prior estimates, the strike could be costing about $30 million a day in lost studio output. A DAY.