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Writer’s Guild of America Strike Continues With No End in Sight

As the WGA strike heads into its second week, read up on what triggered it and what’s happening now.

Writers Guild of America members participate in a strike for better wages
Right: SNL writers participating in the strike (Mark Peterson/Redux Pictures)/ Left: According to the New York Times, an analysts predicts that the strike could affect the Emmys on Sept. 18 (Mark Abramson for NYT)

The Writer’s Guild of America, representing 11,500 writers, went on strike due to contractual negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) falling through.

This is the first strike of its kind in 15 years. According to the Chicago Tribune, despite film and television budgets increasing, the share for writers has dwindled. WGA said that streaming services use “mini rooms,” a term for a smaller staff, for shorter stints, which has made it harder to have a consistent source of income.

According to a report by the guild, the lack of a seasonal calendar amongst streaming services has lowered pay even further. Any annual pay under the current contract fell short of the increases in inflation.

The AMPTP represents the industry’s studios, streamers, and production companies. It claims that the writers’ demands would require the writers to be kept on staff and paid when there is no work for them.

“If writing needs to be done, writers are hired, but these proposals require the employment of writers whether they’re needed for the creative process or not,” the AMPTP said in a document obtained by The Chicago Tribune.

Negotiations typically drag on for hours past a contract deadline, but that wasn’t the case this time around. Talks ended hours before the May 2 deadline. According to the Chicago Tribune, the AMPTP said it offered increases in compensations as well as improvements to streaming to residuals.

The AMPTP included the highest wage increase in 25 years as well as a new category of rates that would allow for higher minimums for mid-level writers. The group was willing to improve their end of negotiations, but the writers were asking for more than they were able to give.

Late night shows are the first to be impacted by the strike as writers work up to the last minute before a broadcast. Pre-recorded non-live shows will not see the effects immediately. These shows are already produced and they will continue to air according to schedule.

According to Variety, the strike will have to go on for months before the impacts are noticeable.

Non-scripted shows, like news and reality shows, won’t be affected as they aren’t under WGA agreement. The strike can’t stop showrunners from coming in a producer capacity; it works as long as they don’t write a script.

Most showrunners are WGA members, so they will likely stop their producing work in an act of solidarity of their peers.

The strike can be tricky for writer-directors as they can join the strike in their writer capacity. Though, they would still have to fulfill their director duties as The Directors Guild of America has a no strike clause in their contracts. If they do walk off a set due to their discomfort, they run the risk of being replaced.

The strike could also delay the production of various films and television shows if a script needs a rewrite or if it isn’t complete. Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” are two shows that fell victim to this.

According to Brittani Nichols, a writer for “Abbott Elementary,” the writers of the show write as they air. In her interview with Democracy Now, she explained that if the strike continues, the show’s episodes won’t come out on time and that could change the amount of episodes that air.

Matt and Ross Duffer, the brother duo who are co-creators and co-showrunners for “Stranger Things,” announced the delay during Cinco De Mayo weekend. They took to Twitter to explain the situation.

“Duffers here. Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then -- over and out. #wgastrong,” the tweet read.

Many celebrities have been seen supporting the writers, notably Pete Davidson and Jay Leno who gave food to those on the picket lines.

It’s unclear how long the strike will be or how well the negotiations are going.

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