A wide majority of members of the Writers Guild of America have recently authorized a potential strike in the event that negotiations with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers would turn out unsuccessful.
The announcement calls to mind the 2007 strike that cost both writers and production companies a lot of money and sacrifices with $287 million in compensation lost and many deals cancelled after months of negotiations. Certainly something that no one in Hollywood wants to go through again…
But with more than 96% of votes from members of the WGA in favor of authorizing a new strike, this means that if no agreement satisfying both sides has been found by May 1st, after weeks of talks, a similar roller coster could well be under way.
In an email sent to members yesterday, the negotiating committee stated: “We thank you for your resolve and your faith in us as your representatives. We are determined to achieve a fair contract.”
But what would the strike, which could then start on May 2nd, be about this time? While the 2007 strike, which lasted 100 days, sought to increase fundings for writers in comparison to the profits of the larger studios, the desired outcome behind this one is not very much different. What the guild is asking for is pay and script fees increases as well as better contributions from employers to its health plan.
The rise of VOD (Video On Demand) services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, has led to shorter seasons and lower fees than those of traditional network TV programs. Add to that exclusivity contracts that mean writers can only work on one show at a time and you’ll get to the recent decline in their average salary (-23%, according to the WGA).
Although negotiations have been ongoing for 3 weeks, the decision to authorize a strike is mostly a way to put pressure on production companies so that they give the WGA what it’s asking for. “None of us want a strike,” Chris Keyser, co-chair of the WGA’s negotiating committee, recently said, before adding that the only mean for the Guild to influence the negotiations “is either the threat of or the actual practice of a strike.”
So far, all the WGA’s demands have been rejected by the studios.
In the event that the strike would indeed go ahead, many late shows could be shut down (including SNL) as well as some upcoming new seasons of popular series whose production is supposed to start next month, like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, The Mindy Project, Jessica Jones, and more…