Welp. It’s starting to look like TV might start to suck again, according to the Writers Guild of America, West the guild has set a date for a vote that would allow WGA leadership to call for a strike.
This isn’t going to be the average, “I didn’t like this week’s episode,” kind of suck–like, it’s possible this will reach Heroes season two levels of suck. Which, coincidentally was airing during the last writers’ strike 15 years ago.
Over the past decade, the companies embraced business practices that slashed our compensation and undermined our working conditions. We are asking to restore writer pay & conditions to reflect our value to this industry. The survival of our profession is at stake. #WGAStrong 3/3
— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) April 3, 2023
Representatives from the WGA went into negotiations with a widely-approved Pattern of Demands that can be broken down into three categories: Compensation and Residuals, Pension Plan and Health Fund, and Professional Standards and Protection in the Employment of Writers. Among the things the WGA wishes to address are abuses of mini-rooms, which shrink a typical writing team of eight down to potentially two or three, increased residuals, regulation of material produced by AI technologies like ChatGPT, and an increase to the pension plan and health fund.
Production companies like Paramount and Disney have argued that this is not a time in which they can afford to meet the demands of the WGA. While board members, who began contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) back in late March, argue that these changes are a long time coming–changes that have only become more urgent as streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+ grow more popular continue to grow.
“The WGA went into negotiations this year with demands based on YOUR (WGA members) survey answers, the issues troubling you the most…mini-rooms, repeating levels, residuals, writers shut out of production, 50% of the Guild now working at minimums, and while the companies have made between $28 and $30 billion in profit, bot revenue, PROFIT, every year for the last five years,” John Rogers, a newly-elected WGA board member, said in a tweet sent out Monday.
During the last writers’ strike, which lasted 100 days from November 2007 to February 2008, 37,700 jobs in California were lost and the state lost $2.1 billion in output through to the end of 2008 and tipped the state into a recession in early 2008, according to the Milken Institute.
“If they gave us *everything*, the whole candy store, and by ‘candy store’ we mean,” Rogers explains amount to, “writers doing slightly better than they were 10 years ago,” it would cost the companies less than 2% of their profits.”
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