Writers on strike | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Writers on strike

Late night shows air reruns after failed contract negotiations

Picket line outside of Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California on May 3 Getty Images/Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP

Writers on strike

TV and film writers stopped working and started picketing this week, holding signs saying, “fair contracts or we’ll spoil Succession,” and “my pronouns are Pay/Me.”

The Writers Guild of America announced its first strike in 15 years after six weeks of failed contract negotiations with major TV and movie studios and streaming services. Writers’ demands include increased employment protections, regulated professional standards across all platforms and genres, a higher minimum wage, and more writing staff per project. Shows dependent on weekly scripts like Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon have already gone dark, airing reruns until further notice.

WGA announced the strike on Monday, with 98 percent of members supporting the move. It said writers face an “existential crisis” as studios continue “devaluing the profession of writing.” WGA released a report on falling writer salaries weeks before the strike. “While series budgets have soared over the past decade, median writer-producer pay has fallen,” it said, adding that “writers working for streaming services … lack the most basic protection of [collective bargaining agreement] minimums.”

“The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels,” the report reads. According to the WGA report, the median salary of a weekly writer-producer declined by 23 percent in the last decade when adjusted for inflation. “Business practices have slashed our compensation and residuals and undermined our working conditions,” WGA said in a news release. Since parties last agreed on a contract, streaming services have taken off and many TV series have cut the number of episodes per season. Both changes cut into writers’ compensation.

The last writer strike occurred after failed negotiations in 2007 and lasted 100 days, ending in February 2008 when over 90 percent of guild members were satisfied with their contracts.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers negotiates three-year contracts with approximately 11,500 writers on behalf of major studios, including Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Sony. The group released a statement Monday night confirming that negotiations would continue despite the WGA walkout. “The AMPTP member companies remain united in their desire to reach a deal mutually beneficial to writers and the health and longevity of the industry, and to avoid hardship to the thousands of employees who depend upon the industry for their livelihoods,” it said in a statement.

The Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists supports the WGA strike, sharing picket schedules and other strike information with its members. Talk show host Drew Barrymore bowed out of hosting the MTV Movie & TV Awards in solidarity with WGA strikers.

The Late Show host Stephen Colbert told viewers during his May 1 show that he also supported the strikers. “The writers’ demands are not unreasonable,” he said.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...