Another possible Writers’ Strike is gathering momentum in the US, a decade after the last disastrous strike of 2007.
The Writers Guild of America argues that an era of record profitability for studios has largely left writers behind.
In a recent letter to members, the WGA West said that the average pay of TV writer-producers fell by 23% in the last two years, while entertainment companies experienced a record $51 billion in profits in 2016. The WGA wants a 3% increase in script fees for the lowest-paid writers, bigger residuals from streaming media, and a 1.5% increase in employer contributions to the guild’s health plan.
Around 12,000 WGA members will begin voting on whether to authorise a walkout. If members approve a strike, as they almost certainly will, and no pact with studios has been reached by May 1, fingers will stop typing and picketing will begin the next day.
The NY Times notes late-night comedy shows would instantly revert to reruns if a strike began. Summer reality shows, such as Big Brother, would arrive — the writer-producers who work on them have a different contract — but some scripted series scheduled for the fall would most likely be delayed. A strike could be a death knell for daytime soap operas, which rely on a new episode almost every weekday, unless producers bring in nonunion writers, which happened during the last strike.
The Writers Guild walked out for 100 days in 2007-8 and 155 days in 1988.