In New York City, WGA members picketed HBO and Amazon offices on Wednesday, May 10, in Manhattan’s midtown neighborhood of Hudson Yards. Union leaders said that after trying to negotiate with the AMPTP for weeks, there was no resolution. Members went out on strike after contract negotiations failed, meaning film and television productions came to a halt nationwide.
“Over the course of the negotiation, we explained how the companies’ business practices have slashed our compensation and residuals and undermined our working conditions,” the union wrote in a message announcing the strike to its members. “Our chief negotiator, as well as writers on the committee, made clear to the studios’ labor representatives that we are determined to achieve a new contract with fair pay that reflects the value of our contribution to company success and includes protections to ensure that writing survives as a sustainable profession.”
For the WGA, the main issues are that they want producers to be required to hire a minimum of 12 writers per TV show rather than the current number, which is currently set at six. Writers should receive more in residual pay, and there should be regulations for the composition of scripts via the use of artificial intelligence (AI), the union contends.
Video streaming companies have also had a major impact on how WGA members get paid now. With the major technological shifts brought on by streamers, “companies have leveraged the streaming transition to underpay writers, creating more precarious, lower-paid models for writers’ work,” the WGA said.
The AMPTP represents 350 broadcast television studios and video streaming services such as Netflix, HULU, Amazon, ABC, CBS, FOX, Apple TV, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Sony. While the AMPTP remains in contention with the WGA, it had to sit down this week to negotiate a new contract with the Directors Guild of America (DGA).
The DGA’s contract with the AMPTP is set to expire on June 30. Having both the DGA and WGA out on strike at the same time would severely cripple the nation’s broadcast production industry.