Thousands of television and movie writers in Hollywood are now on strike against major studios including Apple and Amazon, demanding improved wages and better regulations against the use of artificial intelligence in scriptwriting.
According to reports, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted unanimously early Tuesday morning (May 2) to strike. This decision came down after ongoing negotiations with the major Hollywood studios collapsed without reaching a new deal in advance of the old deal expiring at midnight on Monday (May 1). Picketing is expected to begin later on Tuesday.
The strike against the 350 streaming services and studios – which include Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony – is the first since 2007. “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,” the WGA said in a statement Monday night.
The WGA demands include residuals from streamers and an increase in minimum wages and contributions to the union’s health and pension plans. The union also wants stronger safeguards in place to regulate the use of artificial intelligence in scriptwriting, preventing the generation of content and rewriting of work already done by human writers.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers representing the studios, claimed that they were offering “generous increases in compensation” including streaming residuals in their negotiations. But they also stated that they weren’t going to compromise on requests by the WGA for “mandatory staffing” and “duration of employment” claiming it would lead to writers being staffed on shows when they’re not needed.
Late-night television shows are expected to be immediately impacted, as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon are set to stop production. Scripted dramas and soap operas will also feel an impact, leading to their cutting production short or stopping shooting entirely. Movies may be affected as well, but there has been a stockpiling of scripts by studios and networks that was initiated a while ago in case of an extended strike. The previous strike lasted 100 days into 2008, with an estimated local economic loss of $2.1 billion.