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Writers’ Strike Imminent as Talks Break Down With Producers Guild Before Deadline

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Update: The WGA officially ordered its members to strike for the second time in 15 years. On Monday night, the WGA notified members that “acting on the authority granted to them by their membership” a strike is effective 12:01 am, Tuesday, May 2nd. You can read more about it here. Original story as follows.

A writers’ strike is now imminent as negotiations between the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers went down to the wire on Monday with no deal in place. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) indicated that no deal was reached between the groups on Monday. The deadline for a deal is midnight PT on Tuesday, which is when the current contract between the parties expires.

“Negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA concluded without an agreement today. The AMPTP presented a comprehensive package proposal to the Guild last night which included generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals,” the AMPTP said. “The AMPTP also indicated to the WGA that it is prepared to improve that offer but was unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the Guild continues to insist upon. The primary sticking points are ‘mandatory staffing,’ and ‘duration of employment’ — Guild proposals that would require a company to staff a show with a certain number of writers for a specified period of time, whether needed or not.”

Without a deal in place, a strike is imminent. On Sunday, WGA officials sent an email on Sunday, asking union members to picket should a strike begin this week.

“The greatest amount of leverage we collectively bring to a strike action is the withdrawal of our labor,” the guild wrote in an email to its members Sunday afternoon (via Variety). “Picketing is a key tactic to demonstrate that we are all in this together, and that until a strike is resolved, it’s not business as usual.”

Earlier this month, WGA members overwhelming authorized a strike if negotiations didn’t pan out. The vote, which took place in mid-April, saw 97.85-percent of WGA members voting to authorize a strike if no new agreement was reached.

Should a strike take place, this will not be the first time. The last time there was a strike was 2007. That strike, which lasted into 2008, had a major impact on television with screenwriters stopping work for 100 days and, in turn, forcing the delay and in some cases reduced episode count of numerous television shows. There was also a heavy economic cost, with it estimated that the strike cost the economy of Los Angeles $1.5 billion., according to NPR at the time.

What are the new WGA contract disputes over?

Given the skyrocketing popularity of shows and films on streaming, the WGA is hoping to increase royalty and residual payments from those shows placed on streaming platforms to an amount resembling that of network television. Other points include general compensation, with the writers’ guild looking for higher wages all-around, and regulating the size of writer’s rooms in an attempt to help keep more writers employed.

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