145 Days On: Summarizing the Summer of Hollywood Strikes

The WGA and SAG-AFTRA unions have been on strike, drastically affecting the entertainment industry of Hollywood. Here are the major highlights from this summer of strikes.

Sep 25, 2023

![Image description: A logo, white on yellow background, showing solidarity between the striking unions. The text reads, "SAG-AFTRA Supports WGA". End ID.]( piece.jpg)
In recent months, the Writer’s Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have been on strike, drastically affecting the entertainment industry of Hollywood. The WGA, representing writers in Hollywood, has a membership of over 11,000 while SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, numbers approximately 160,000 members. The writer’s union has been on strike since May 2, while the actor’s union strike began more recently on July 14.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) is the trade association representing major studios including Paramount Pictures, Disney, and Amazon, and has only sought out negotiations with the writer’s union. Another round of negotiation talks is currently underway between the AMPTP and WGA, and a notable change in this recent round of negotiations is that studio executives are attending the current talks (Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros Discovery, and Universal).
These talks are centered around three central issues: the usage of artificial intelligence, the size and timeline of employment, and higher pay. The issue of AI pertains to using AI to create scripts and then having writers tweak them, which cuts down the hours of writers and limits the number of writers needed for a production. Furthermore, the WGA is trying to prevent their work being used to train AI to refine its script-writing abilities.
The size of staff for TV shows has been drastically reduced in recent years. This decreases writers’ chances of getting a job, forcing many writers in recent years to operate as freelancers and deal with issues such as lack of insurance and steady pay. Writers’ issue of reliability within the industry is made worse by the decreasing amount of episodes per season, which further decreases the period of employment for many of these writers. Currently, the WGA is asking studio executives to ensure that writers have a minimum employment of 13 weeks for streaming shows and a minimum of six writers on a show, with the option to hire an additional six writers if needed. The AMPTP’s current offer is that there be three writers on a show with a guarantee of 10 weeks of employment. The AMPTP has not yet met with the SAG-AFTRA union.
On the issue of pay, the WGA is seeking higher residuals due to the shift from broadcast television to streaming services. Another way the WGA is hoping to increase their pay given the shift to streaming services is by implementing a viewer-based system for determining residuals, which would result in a successful, frequently-watched show providing for its writers with more pay.
This past Sunday the WGA and AMPTP came to a tentative agreement, although the specific terms of the deal are not known. This means the WGA has stopped picketing, but will remain on strike until the deal is ratified by the members of the WGA. SAG-AFTRA continues to be on strike, which will maintain the current halt in production within the Hollywood industry.
Isabel Ortega is a Deputy News Editor. Email them at
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