From Writers to Fighters: The Writers Guild of America puts their “pencils down” for the first Hollywood strike in 15 years

The Writers Guild of America has formed picket lines in front of major production companies, starting on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 2nd.

     2007—the year of the first iPhone, the Spice Girls reunion tour, and the infamous finale to the Sopranos. It’s also the year of the 100-day Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

     Fifteen years later, they’re at it again. The AMPTP, representing Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Sony, failed to agree on a new three-year contract with the writers.

      Demanding changes to mandatory staffing levels, duration of employment, and amount of money, over 11,000 writers are walking the picket lines in front of America’s major production companies in Los Angeles, New York City, and other cities. Earlier discussions about the looming threat of AI screenwriters and salary increases could not be agreed upon between the two organizations.

     Hollywood is going to take a big hit from the strike, which has already impacted some late-night talk shows and other daily cable shows. Without writers, unfinished television shows, movies, and talk shows will have to pause until negotiations are made.

       According to The LA Times, the 2007 WGA strike shut down “more than 60 TV shows, hampering ratings and depriving the networks of tens of millions in advertising dollars.” Experts are saying that the same can be expected now.

     While the impact of this strike is expected to have the same result as in 2007-2008, the circumstances are very different now. An extreme increase in the use of television streaming services in the past few years has contributed substantially to the matters being negotiated by these writers.

      Some writers have criticized the job insecurity resulting from these streaming networks. Most streaming shows only have about eight episodes per season, as opposed to the standard twenty-ish episodes on traditional cable shows. Shorter seasons mean less writing, and less writing means less work for these creators.

     Not to mention AI’s role in this strike. Many of those on the picket lines are carrying signs saying something along the lines of, “Don’t replace me with AI, please!” The increased use of AI has posed a threat to many jobs, but writers have been especially concerned. The rise of ChatGPT, the popular writing AI software, has been the subject of talks about a new approach to screenwriting.

     The times have changed, and the writers who put hard work into creating our favorite media should be recognized and supported in this action. Some ways that you can support the strike include donating your time or money, speaking out about the situation, and spreading information.

     I will leave you with a brief segment of the message that the WGA wrote to its members regarding the importance of going on strike—

 

Here is what all writers know: the companies have broken this business. They have taken so much from the very people, the writers, who have made them wealthy. But what they cannot take from us is each other, our solidarity, our mutual commitment to save ourselves and this profession that we love. We had hoped to do this through reasonable conversation. Now we will do it through struggle. For the sake of our present and our future, we have been given no other choice.”

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Jim Marsoobian
Jim Marsoobian
Jim Marsoobian is the editor-in-chief for The Diablo Dispatch. Besides writing, she also loves cats, movies, mysteries, collecting, and listening to music! : )

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