Taking a stand. The Writers Guild of America officially authorized a strike in May 2023 — several TV shows have already been affected as a result.
Writers and studios attempted to reach a new wage agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in April 2023 before the WGA contract expired. Negotiations, however, broke down as the WGA pushed for their compensation to take into account streaming residuals, better working conditions and a limit on the use of artificial intelligence technology.
WGA members emphasized in an open letter that their focus was on “fair pay that reflects the value of our contribution to company success and includes protections to ensure that writing survives as a sustainable profession.”
A strike was confirmed after an agreement ultimately couldn’t be reached with AMPTP — the organization that represents major networks such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony.
“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,” the letter read. “From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a ‘day rate’ in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”
In response, AMPTP noted that they felt they offered “generous” compensation in their counteroffer.
“Negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA concluded without an agreement today,” the trade association told Variety at the time. “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 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.”
Shows such as Abbott Elementary, Yellowjackets and Saturday Night Live have since hit pause on production. Writer Brittani Nichols, who penned episodes for the hit ABC sitcom, revealed that the strike could impact the number of episodes in upcoming seasons.
“We are a show that writes while we air,” Nichols told Democracy Now in May 2023. “If this strike goes on for a significant period of time, our show will not come out on time and that could change the amount of episodes which I’m sure people will be very upset about.”
Meanwhile, Yellowjackets creator Ashley Lyle announced a writers room shut down after one day back in the office. “It was amazing, and creatively invigorating, and so much fun, and I’m really excited to get back to it as soon as the WGA gets a fair deal,” the screenwriter tweeted in May 2023.
Days later, Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer (A.K.A. The Duffer Brothers) revealed that the fifth and final season of Stranger Things would not start production as expected. “Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then — over and out,” the creators of the Netflix show shared in a tweet.
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Scroll down to see which TV shows have been impacted by the 2023 WGA strike: