WGA, SAG-AFTRA Strike Remains Strong After Over 100 Days on the Picket Line

Over 100 days after declaring a strike, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) stays unwavering of their dedication to securing a good contract for its 11,000 members.
The WGA made it clear final week that after a non-starter assembly with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents main tv studios, they won’t finish the strike till their phrases are met: “Rest assured, this committee doesn’t intend to depart anybody behind, or make merely an incremental deal to conclude this strike.”
Though the studios stated they might take into account elevating minimal script charges, they have been “not prepared to have interaction” on different key points, in line with a WGA assertion. These embrace mandating minimal writers’ room sizes and employment phrases, fixing the damaged system of residuals — the funds writers and actors obtain when their program re-airs — and adequately defending them from the menace of AI.
Since July 14, the WGA’s some 160,000 counterparts in the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have additionally been on strike, marking the first time each main leisure trade unions have shut down Hollywood since 1960.
The final WGA strike, which passed off between 2007 and 2008, ended after 99 days. But not like final time, when numbers on the picket dwindled, this time, attendance stays sturdy on the picket strains at studio tons, in line with Y. Shireen Razack, a tv author in addition to co-founder and co-chair of the Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity (TTIE). TTIE works to extend alternatives for tv writers from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. Recent polls present that the public continues to assist the unions over the studios.

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“Despite the warmth and all that, I believe we’re simply as dedicated and motivated as we ever have been,” defined Tawal Panyacosit, a WGA member and one other co-founder and co-chair of TTIE. The solidarity from SAG-AFTRA has validated WGA members and reinvigorated the strike, he stated.
As SAG-AFTRA member Miriam Blanco added, “There’s extra energy in union solidarity. Gather up all the artists, and let’s all decide to working when we now have a good contract. I believe that makes it a motion.”
Like the WGA, SAG-AFTRA is united round points arising from the explosion of streaming in the final decade. Streaming has upended the tv trade, however compensation constructions haven’t tailored apace. Before streaming, writers have been employed for longer durations, with bigger groups that penned longer seasons. They have been paid script charges and leaned on important quantities of residual funds they acquired every time an episode they’d written aired, which allowed writers to maintain themselves throughout dry durations.
But streaming providers like Netflix and Hulu order shorter seasons and sometimes rent writers to write down whole collection earlier than manufacturing even begins in what are known as mini-rooms. And their residual funds are considerably decrease than these for community tv, or none in any respect if the present by no means goes into manufacturing. This has opened a large chasm in compensation for writers and actors who work for streaming reveals or for community tv, though they’re producing the identical product.
As a consequence, TV writing and performing has, for a lot of leisure staff, grow to be “not livable,” in Blanco’s phrases. Actors have taken to social media to attract consideration to this problem. Actress Kimiko Glenn posted a viral TikTok displaying how little in residuals she makes for her work on “Orange Is the New Black,” considered one of Netflix’s first mega-hits, posting one examine she acquired for a protracted record of episodes, totaling some $27. That actors like Glenn and her colleagues — as detailed in a New Yorker article about the compensation points on the present — have been unable to make a dwelling on “Orange” feels notably notable contemplating the present’s progressive themes. The collection introduced problems with the prison-industrial complicated into the mainstream and featured a particularly various solid that was majority ladies, folks of colour, and LGBTQIA+.
The rise of streaming has seen an explosion of various storytelling by creators, writers, and actors from traditionally underrepresented teams. In the 2020-21 tv season, Nielsen discovered that 78% of the 1,500 hottest reveals featured some presence of racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation variety. And many of those reveals have been huge hits. But many additionally didn’t adequately compensate the folks behind it. According to TTIE, 47% of BIPOC writers should take jobs exterior the trade, and the majority of disabled writers rely on household assist (52%) or public assist like unemployment (72%) to outlive.
Despite pledges from studio leaders in 2020 to assist various programming, since 2021, an trade contraction has led to the cancellation of many collection. In some circumstances, various reveals have been first on the chopping block, with some pulled solely from streaming platforms or not greenlighted in any respect.
As Blanco, a Filipina wheelchair person, defined, “You’re seeing all these individuals who haven’t been getting their tales advised be capable of. But it’s handled prefer it’s this luxurious … this bonus factor, [when it] must be a precedence.”
And whereas some issues have improved for writers and actors from traditionally underrepresented teams, they nonetheless face disproportionate obstacles to entry and development of their careers.
“There are already these astronomical obstacles of entry relating to working in leisure for simply anyone. But for disabled artists, it’s so a lot more durable,” Blanco stated.
Razack and Panyacosit stated that even after clearing the first hurdle of getting a writing job, folks of colour are extra seemingly than their white counterparts to repeat workers ranges and never advance to higher ranges as showrunners or creators. Today, 81% of showrunners are white, in line with the 2022 WGAW Equity & Inclusion report. The problem of mini-rooms with shorter timelines contributes to this drawback as a result of writers in these rooms don’t get to work on set whereas the present itself is filmed, lacking out on essential skilled growth.
AI might have an particularly destructive influence on various tales, TTIE notes. “​​AI writing applications generate story based mostly on scripts they’ve been fed from the a few years of Hollywood’s existence. We’re speaking a long time of storytelling that propagated and perpetuated dangerous stereotypes about traditionally excluded communities.”
Meanwhile, CEO Disney Bob Iger, who makes $27 million a 12 months, has known as the strike’s calls for “not real looking.” Behind closed doorways, the studios’ angle towards the strike is even much less circumspect, with one telling Deadline in July that “the endgame is to permit issues to pull on till union members begin shedding their flats and shedding their homes.”
Blanco and her fellow actors have been “disgusted … that anybody would even vocalize that being the intention of the studios.” But assist from organizations like the Entertainment Community Fund, SAG-AFTRA Foundation, and lots of extra has helped hold writers and actors afloat on this powerful time, serving to them purchase groceries, make automobile funds, and pay hire.
A-listers have donated hundreds of thousands to those funds, which Blanco acknowledged will assist working writers stand an opportunity towards the studios.
“We’ve received folks on this trade which have been actually profitable which have acknowledged the luck that they’ve had,” she stated.
Though resolve stands sturdy, as the strike rounds out its first quarter, some members face financial challenges and fear about remaining eligible for union medical insurance, which requires a sure revenue stage. This is very salient to traditionally underrepresented teams, together with disabled writers. “It’s a actuality and considered one of the many dangers we’ve taken to assist this strike and a sustainable profession shifting ahead,” stated Panyacosit.
“We got here into this trade as a result of we like it — we love writing, or performing, or no matter it’s, and I believe we simply need to be pretty compensated,” he stated. “We need to have the ability to pay our rents.”
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