The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television (SAG-AFTRA) strikes both reached new milestones on Monday, with the WGA currently going over the latest counterproposal from studios, and SAG-AFTRA announcing that all future indie movie projects will be denied by the union.
The WGA strike, which started on May 2nd and has currently lasted 104 days, was, until recently, at a a standstill with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). 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 for months as the WGA failed to counter the AMPTPs last offer. An attempt at negotiations a few weeks ago even led both sides leaving because of all issues remaining unresolved.
However, on Friday, both sides finally met again in LA. The AMPTP subsequently gave a counterproposal that the WGA immediately began going over.
“Your Negotiating Committee received a counterproposal from the AMPTP today. We will evaluate their offer and, after deliberation, go back to them with the WGA’s response next week,” the WGA said in a statement last week.
“Sometimes more progress can be made in negotiations when they are conducted without a blow-by-blow description of the moves on each side and a subsequent public dissection of the meaning of the moves. That will be our approach, at least for the time being, until there is something of significance to report, or unless management uses the media or industry surrogates to try to influence the narrative.”
“The Guild always has the right to communicate with our members and will do so when we think there is news you need to know. In the meantime, please continue to demonstrate your commitment by showing up to the picket lines: for yourselves, your fellow writers, SAG-AFTRA, fellow union members, and all those in our community who are impacted by the strikes.”
The offer itself is unknown, with the AMPTP staying silent on the matter and the WGA not releasing any info about it besides a statement during the weekend. However, on Monday, many in the WGA said that the offer is still being looked over and that a response from the union is coming later in the week.”
Amy, a picketing writer, told the Globe on Monday, “That’s what we’ve being hearing. To sit tight while the negotiating committee looks it over. I honestly can’t tell you which way it will go, but I can say that everyone is antsy and that we all want this to be over. We just want to write again.”
Strikes continue in LA
Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA also had a major announcement on Monday as well. Independent films, which have been given an exception by the union if they have been approved by both unions, will no longer be allowed by either the WGA or SAG-AFTRA. All current approved projects, which currently number 207, will not be affected. But any future project that meets both unions demands will still not be accepted. The change, brought by pressure from union members who said that the exceptions undermined both strikes and gave studios some content in the future, was remarked upon by both unions on Monday.
“We have been advised by the WGA that this modification will assist them in executing their strike strategy, and we believe it does not undermine the utility and effectiveness of ours,” said SAG-AFTRA in a statement. “It is a win-win change.”
However, many below the line workers protested the change on Monday, saying that it will cost them jobs and would likely hurt many lower-income union members as well because of not having any interim work.
“Now they’re just going to be pissing off the crews,” Alan, a longtime grip in Los Angeles, told the Globe on Monday. “Now they are taking away much needed funds from struggling actors who had found a way to both work and support the strike. This isn’t a win. This is the destruction of so many jobs in the industry just because they are having a hissy-fit.”
“Crews remember these work stoppages, and you can bet there is going to be a lot of animosity when the strike is over. They weren’t there for us when we needed work. That’s the feeling now, even amongst guys from other unions. IATSE and others are in solidarity for sure, but a lot of individual members are really feeling different about it.”
Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are likely to have announcements on strike negotiations later this week.
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