The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) both announced late on Thursday that they will likely meet once again next week for the first time in nearly a month.
The WGA strike, which started on May 2nd and has currently lasted 136 days, has been at a standstill with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for months. The WGA, as well as SAG-AFTRA in their own strike, have been pulling for better residual fees for streaming service programs, better overall pay, a minimum number of writers on writing staff to ensure continued employment, and strict regulation on the use of artificial intelligence.
While talks between the WGA and the studios did restart last month, they soon broke down again. In September, the situation grew more dire for both sides. The studios, as well as other related entertainment-related businesses, were revealed to have fired around 17,000 employees in August. The unions, meanwhile, have seen a startling rise of strikers facing rent evictions and needing help to pat for expenses as their saving run out. Both are also currently awaiting counter offers, with both sides saying that the other needs to give one back.
The WGA also saw further setbacks this week as more shows once halted by the shutdown resumed production, including the Drew Barrymore Show and Real Time with Bill Maher. While many have chastised the decision of productions to resume amidst a strike without writers, they have also received support for brining back some industry jobs during a time when the strikes have taken away so many and which have cost the state of California $5 billion in economic losses so far.
With the studios losing billions and Guild members facing greater financial hardships, both sides finally agreed to meet again on Thursday. Currently, it is not known when the two sides will ultimately meet, as it is still being scheduled. However, both sides expressed hope that talks, and a possible end to the strike, could come soon.
“On Wednesday, September 13, the WGA reached out to the AMPTP and asked for a meeting to move negotiations forward,” said the AMPTP in a statement. “We have agreed and are working to schedule a meeting next week. Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to working together with the WGA to end the strike.”
— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) September 15, 2023
Despite the announcement, industry and strike experts told the Globe on Friday that both sides are still very much entrenched with what they want, and that a compromise would likely be difficult to reach.
“The sentiment is nice and it would be great to have both sides talking again, but the fact is that both sides have already given so much up,” said Theresa Stevenson, an arbitrator in Michigan who has helped settled union disputes and strikes in the past. “Most writers are in a precarious financial situation now and have lost a lot of savings, if not all of it. Studios, meanwhile, like you pointed out, have lost billions. Nobody wants to give in much more, even though it is obvious that that has to happen.
“At the very least we’ll know exactly where everyone is at if talks resume. But, for right now, LA and other film cities are hurting, tens of thousands of other industry workers are in trouble because neither side can agree, and so much is still at stake. The UAW strike and others popping up during this strike heavy year are also putting pressure on both sides. Company owners don’t like to see major concessions due to the costs and workers see a major give-in by one union as something that could cause a chain to other strikes, as if there is no hope of a fair resolution. We’ll know more soon.”
As of Friday afternoon, a restart date and time to negotiation talks between the studios and the WGA is still not known.
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