After negotiations failed, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), television and film writers went on strike for a fair contract. The Freelance Solidarity Project (FSP), the Digital Media Division of the National Writers Union (NWU), supports the strike and will respect the picket line. Sentry News’ publisher, an NWU/FSP member, also stands with the WGA.
According to the FSP statement supporting the Writers Guild, “Hollywood, like the broader media industry to which it belongs, will continue to take advantage of its workers so long as they [can] isolate them and force them to compete with one another for diminishing resources. We will stand alongside our colleagues as they strike for dignity, respect, and a fair contract.”
The terms Writers Guild writers are seeking are reasonable. Writers’ unions “will not stop fighting for a world where telling stories and making art are valued for the beauty, truth, and joy they bring to the human experience,” rather than only for the money they create for corporations.
Additional Support for Writers Guild of America
Congress members voiced their support for the Writers Guild. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex (AOC), Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Adam Shiff, and Rep. Katie Porter shared encouraging words with striking WGA members.
Actresses Drew Barrymore and Jamie Lee Curtis withdrew from MTV’s live airing of the “Movie & TV” awards show out of respect for the writers’ strike. Their withdrawals caused the network to cancel its live showing and will air a taped version. Curtis expressed her solidarity with the Writer Guild using Instagram. She wrote that she could not present at the MTV Movie & TV Awards because the WGA-West needs and deserves her support. Moreover, she vowed not to cross their picket line.
WGA Member Tweets Help to Explain Strike
On April 12, Ashley Nicole Black, a writer, posted a lengthy series of tweets to counter insensitive comments. “I’ve seen a couple of tweets responding to Writers Guild of America talking about the potential strike saying, ‘You’re just broke because you don’t write on hit shows.’ LOL, funny story, writing on hit doesn’t make you any more money! That’s part of the problem!”
“Let me explain: So back in the day when something like “Friends” was a hit; they sold it to other networks to re-air. So when you see “Friends” on Nick at Nite…those writers are still getting a check as they should because we still enjoy their work.”
However, “If you write on a hit for a network, they don’t sell it to another network, their sell it to their own streamer,” Ashley continued. “Or if you wrote it for their streamer, they sell it nowhere. So even if it’s a huge hit, they get to determine the value and…send you a check for $1.25. So residuals…don’t exist anymore. When you add that to wages going down at all levels, smaller writer rooms, and shorter working periods, writers are being squeezed in all directions. And folks don’t have enough savings to live between seasons of (even hit) shows.”
Mike Royce added to the conversation. “Plus, when you wrote on a hit back then, you knew it because of Nielsen ratings. But streaming services don’t share their data, so you have far less [negotiating leverage.] They can tell you whatever they want about how your show is doing!”
Sentry News Calls on Negotiators to End Strike
Sentry News publisher calls on the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to stay at the negotiation table with the Writers Guild representatives until both parties agree on a new contract. Somehow, this strike must end quickly to prevent support industries, like transportation and catering, from experiencing an unforeseen financial crisis. Furthermore, no one can afford for the strike to continue, especially with the potential onset of a recession in the United States.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
NPR: If you think a writers’ strike will be bad for viewers, status quo may be even worse; by Linda Holmes
NBC News: Hollywood writers go on strike after contract negotiations fail; by Daniel Arkin
Freelance Solidarity Project: Solidarity with the Writers Guild of America
ABC News: MTV cancels live airing of ‘Movie & TV’ awards after host Drew Barrymore pulls out due to WGA strike