The 2023 Writers Guild of America strike is officially happening, and there’s a lot of confusion about what that means and how it affects our favorite shows and movies.
The basics are this: the Writers Guild of America (WGA) members, aka the screenwriters who create your favorite shows and movies) renegotiate its studio contracts roughly every three years with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers). The AMPTP represents motion pictures studios like Universal Pictures, Walt Disney, Warner Bros, Netflix, and more.
The official deadline this year for negotiations was May 1st. On that day, the WGA announced they had been unable to come to an agreement, and the WGA was officially on strike. To clarify, the WGA is asking for a fair living wage, health insurance, guaranteed work, regulation on using AI for script writing because it will put them out of a job, and compensation for the hard work that they put into these multibillion dollar shows and industry.
In practice, the strike means that starting Tuesday (May 2), all members of the WGA are officially “pencils down.” This essentially means they are refusing to work on any current or future projects. The union has publicized both their demands and the responses from the studios, with members picketing in both New York City and LA and explaining to reporters why striking is the only viable option for the profession.
The last writers’ strike, which began in November 2007, lasted 100 days.
The immediate impact of the strike has already been felt. Late night scripted shows have already gone dark, and SNL has already announced it would air reruns. Soaps are likely to follow. Scripted network shows will likely finish out their seasons, but could see delays in their next seasons if the strike extends for longer than a month or so. Streaming shows are produced with a longer window, but even those are likely to be affected if the strike extends for a long period of time.
For writers of our community, the impact of the strike, and the importance of what the WGA is hoping to achieve is especially important. Acapulco writer Francisco Cabrera spoke to Deadline about it saying, “We deserve to get paid for the work that we do. And right now it feels like a gig economy.” He has previously worked on Gentefied and Gordita Chronicles, who were both cancelled.
Gordita Chronicles showrunner Brigitte Muñoz-Liebowitz also spoke to Deadline, explaining, “I saw writers with years of experience be asked to work for scale.” Scale refers to being paid daily for your work and is also considered the minimum pay for the work they do.
Dailyn Rodriguez, co-showrunner of Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer, also went over the reasons why the strike makes sense. She said, “We’re working less weeks, for less money at scale while they’re making billions of dollars.” She has previously worked on Queen of the South as co-executive showrunner and wrote for Ugly Betty.
Meanwhile, One Day at A Time and With Love’s showrunner’s Gloria Calderon Kellet was also seen picketing on what is just the first day of many planned protests for a strike that, will, hopefully, have a swift and satisfactory resolution that supports the Latine creatives who make content about our communities for our communities.