The last time the Writers Guild of America went on strike was a decade ago in 2007. Recent negotiations between the Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have begun to stall and sputter and the Guild’s leadership has asked the rank and file to consider authorizing another strike.
The Guild contends that the film and television industries continue to clear record profits but that those that are behind the success, the writers, are being left out in the proverbial cold. The Alliance represents all of Hollywood‘s major film studios as well as independent producers and television networks throughout the country. The Guild sees the fortunes of its membership taking a sharp decline in the last five years or so and they are looking to stop the bleeding immediately.
In a publicly released statement, the Guild declared that, “We do not yet have a deal. We will continue to bargain in good faith to make such a deal. The package, taken as a whole, is unacceptable. We would be derelict in our duty if we accepted it.”
Deadline for a deal is May 1 and the Guild leadership doesn’t see it happening at the moment. The Guild complains about television series’ having shorter seasons, even though there are currently 455 of them running on some outlet somewhere, as well as fewer films being produced and streaming services with burgeoning profits. Another huge hurdle for the Guild is how to deal with the proliferation of the streaming services so that their membership isn’t shortchanged on their content production. The writers want residuals from the streaming services. In a poll of over 2,000 members, the Guild has actually discovered that salaries have actually gone down a startling 23% since 2013.
Thus far, the producers are not interested in raising salaries or cutting the writers in on the booming streaming services revenues. The Guild statement to their membership further declared, with regard to these matters that, “new models of development, production and distribution, while making the companies richer, have not worked to your individual or collective advantage.”
The Alliance, as imagined, takes a different point of view and a recent Alliance statement said that, “negotiations at an early stage in the process in order to secure a strike vote rather than directing its efforts at reaching an agreement at the bargaining table. Keeping the industry working is in everyone’s best interests, and we are ready to return to negotiations when they are.”
If an agreement can’t be had by May 1, the leadership of the Writers Guild will ask for a strike vote from its more than 12,000 members.
PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters
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