The Hollywood writers strike was once again brought to a standstill on Friday, with both the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) announcing that no talks are currently in the works after series of negotiations failed to produce any compromise in the last two weeks.
The WGA strike, which started on May 2nd and has currently lasted 115 days, had no negotiation talks come about for over three months. Negotiations over better residual fees for streaming service programs, overall better pay, a minimum number of writers on writing staff to ensure continued employment, and strict regulation on the use of artificial intelligence stayed silent as the WGA failed to counter the AMPTPs last offer.
However, after a few aborted attempts, negotiations finally started up on August 11th. The AMPTP gave their latest offer, which included greater transparency on streaming viewership, increased pay rates, some concessions on AI usage, and a compromise over writer room size. The WGA rejected that offer within a few days and gave their own counter offer, which has yet to be made public. After several more days of discussions, and a break because of Hurricane Hilary passing over the city, the WGA and AMPTP met for a final time on Tuesday. There, talks began to break down, as the AMPTP pushed their first counteroffer again, and the WGA accusing the studios of not wanting to make a deal.
“We accepted that invitation and, in good faith, met tonight, in hopes that the companies were serious about getting the industry back to work,” said the WGA negotiating committee on Tuesday night. “Instead, on the 113th day of the strike we were met with a lecture about how good their single and only counteroffer was. We explained all the ways in which their counter’s limitations and loopholes and omissions failed to sufficiently protect writers from the existential threats that caused us to strike in the first place. We told them that a strike has a price, and that price is an answer to all – and not just some – of the problems they have created in the business.”
“But this wasn’t a meeting to make a deal. This was a meeting to get us to cave. This was the companies’ plan from the beginning – not to bargain, but to jam us. It is their only strategy – to bet that we will turn on each other.”
The AMPTP fired back, with the group releasing to the public what their latest offer to the WGA was and President Carol Lombardini saying that “Our priority is to end the strike so that valued members of the creative community can return to what they do best and to end the hardships that so many people and businesses that service the industry are experiencing. We have come to the table with an offer that meets the priority concerns the writers have expressed. We are deeply committed to ending the strike and are hopeful that the WGA will work toward the same resolution.”
The strike continues with no negotiations on the horizon
However, despite some hope in the industry for a resolution in August and before the looming fall when bank accounts of WGA members are expected to dry up, neither side backed down. Even worse, both the union and the studios have said that no new talks are scheduled for anytime soon This means that the strike will likely now go into September, potentially making it the longest WGA strike on record, surpassing the 153-day 1988 WGA strike.
Insiders told the Globe on Friday that the mood shifted for many this week as a result.
“We were all hopeful that we would be back at work by now,” said a Netflix writer. who wished to remain anonymous. “We really want to get back to work. But we were told that they were still nowhere close to a deal. And, look, we are appearing strong and unified, but many of us are very worried. We’re all running out of money, and those of us without spouses or families to help support us, well, we are suffering. We knew we would be in for the long haul, but it is getting worse and worse. We feel like the pickets aren’t doing anything. We need a new negotiating committee.”
The strike is also affecting the city of Los Angeles more and more. New estimates this week have showed that the WGA strike, in addition to the SAG-AFTRA strike, have now cost the city more than $3 billion since May. And with neither side meeting once again, it will get worse.
“Strikes always hurt the cities they are in,” said Theresa Stevenson, an arbitrator in Michigan who has helped settled union disputes and strikes in the past. “Not only do businesses catering to those workers and the industry that they are in suffer, but there is a ripple effect, so even those several degrees away from the striking workers see higher prices or more empty restaurants. It affects everyone.”
“You never like to see negotiations suddenly end like this with nothing resolved. Both sides have a lot at stake, and for a lot of the issues, neither side wants to give anything up. It’s quite sad.”
The WGA strike is expected to continue next week with no current negotiations slated.
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