The strike goes strong
By Cammie Breuer/ Arts and Culture Editor
On May 2nd The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced that their negotiating committee, board of directors, and their counsel had voted unanimously to go on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). After several weeks of negotiations with major studios such as Apple, Amazon Prime, Disney, Netflix, Sony, and Paramount WGA felt that a fair deal still had not been proposed. WGA is a labor union who is responsible for writing scripts for films, series, news programming and other content. This means that until a deal is met no new content is being created for a majority of major media companies as they are all under the AMPTP.
In AMPTP’s statement to the strike they stated that despite the fact that their proposal included “generous increases in compensation…as well as improvements in streaming residuals” Though their proposals did include such increases, WGA felt these offers were still insufficient; it is about more than the money.
One of their proposals to AMPTP would require a production company to hire a certain number of writers for a specific period of time. They believe that a certain gig culture has been created in Hollywood where there is no job security and this is one way to combat that. They also ask for health and pension benefits, something that is offered in a vast majority of other labor unions. AMPTP refused to budge on these issues and so the strike ensued.
Several weeks later President Fran Drescher of the Screen Actors Guild of American Federation of Television and Radio Arts (SAG AFTRA) held a press conference to announce that they would be joining in the strike against AMPTP effective midnight July 14, 2023. It has been 63 years since WGA and SAG (before merger with AFTRA) went on strike at the same time against AMPTP (formally Alliance of Television Film Producers).
“We have no choice.” Dresher announced. “We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity.”
Margo Robbie showing support (Photo from London Entertainment
Many famous names in Hollywood have gone to the picket lines in support of their fellow industry workers. The casts of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” rallied together in solidarity with WGA and SAG AFTRA. Star, Bryan Cranston, gave a powerful speech in New York on the new threat of AI in the industry. Donations to the cause have also been pouring in; Dwyane ‘the rock’ Johnson has made a whopping 15 million dollar donation to the cause.
Most recently SAG AFTRA are expecting to extend the strike into their interactive media department which could affect the video game industry. Negotiations with companies such as Epic games inc; Activision Productions inc; Disney Character Voices; and Warner Brother Games have been pushed back until the end of September.
Breaking Bad cast at picket lines outside of Sony studio. (Photo from AP News)
The last WGA strike held in 2007-2008 lasted for 100 days and cost the state of California roughly 2 Billion dollars in revenue. This strike has now been going 135 days and organizations on either end do not seem to be backing down. We can already see the effects that this strike is having on the entertainment industry. The Emmy awards previously scheduled for September 18th will now be held on January 15th, 2024. The release dates of many major motion pictures such as Dune pt.2; the Ghostbuster afterlife sequel; Deadpool 3; and the remaining installments of the Avatar franchise, have all been impacted by the strike.
Though this might be disappointing news for mobile fans it is important to remember these are peoples jobs and livelihoods. This strike is an important milestone in the entertainment industry as it holds big companies accountable for their actions. They make Billions of dollars and they should be able to give their union workers the same rights as other union workers in different fields. It is important that we stand in solidarity with WGA and SAG AFTRA and wait patiently for AMPTP’s response.