Hollywood is once again caught in a labor dispute as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) continues its strike for better wages and workplace protections. Last week, the WGA went on strike, halting production on many TV shows, including “Saturday Night Live” and late-night talk shows. Negotiations between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have yet to make any progress.
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has now entered the fray, beginning its labor talks with Hollywood studios on May 11th. The DGA has similar priorities to the WGA, including wages, streaming residuals, and improving safety on sets. However, there has been no word on any progress made in these negotiations.
The WGA has requested an overhaul of the formula for streaming residuals to offer higher compensation for more popular programs. The strike has already impacted Hollywood, with the “MTV Movie & TV Awards” live ceremony being canceled on Sunday due to celebrities refusing to cross the WGA picket lines. Vice President Kamala Harris has also canceled her planned appearance at an MTV mental health awareness event due to the strike.
Although studio executives have insisted that the strike will not have a significant impact on operations or viewers, the WGA argues that studios do not have an endless supply of content on which to draw. The AMPTP has issued a position paper outlining its take on some key negotiating points in the labor impasse, including a response to the WGA demand for minimum staffing levels and employment guarantees.
The last WGA strike lasted from November 2007 to February 2008 and cost the local economy an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion. The WGA is pushing for higher residual pay for streaming programs with higher viewership and industry standards for the number of writers assigned to each show, among other things. The guild says that writers are facing the most comprehensive assault on compensation and working conditions that they have seen in a generation.
As negotiations continue, Hollywood braces for the potential impact of another prolonged strike. The fate of many TV shows and the livelihoods of countless workers hang in the balance, and only time will tell if a resolution can be reached.