In the Know: 2023 Writers’ Strike

Close to 12,000 writers have been on strike since May 2, 2023 are on strike following an ongoing labor dispute between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). This marks the largest American film and television production interruption since the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fourth largest in the nation’s history.

This strike happened as a result of no agreement between the WGA and AMPTP on writers’ average incomes. The WGA claims that the AMPTP cut much of their average income compared to a decade ago. 

Furthermore, the Guild wants artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT, which gained popularity this year, to be used only as a tool that can be used for research purposes and not as tools to replace the writers.

In May 2020, the Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) that expired on May 2023, became a collective bargaining agreement that helped establish a minimum wage for media writers. When this expired, there were disputes about how much writers were getting paid – which they wanted more to keep up with how much other areas of television and film were getting paid as well. Where the WGA wanted about $429 million a year, the AMPTP was offering $86 million.

The Guild is also asking for mandator staffing and duration of employment to require all shows to staff a minimum number of writers per amount of time whether or not it’s needed for the AMPTP. The Guild wants pension and health care funds as well, to which the AMPTP rejected without countering. 

This propelled most of the Guild members to vote to go on strike if an agreement was not made by May 1. 

This strike gained traction when several popular shows would cease production such as Abbott Elementary and Stranger Things. Multiple talk shows’ seasons are also on hold due to the strike, like Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Real Time with Bill Maher and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Even projects like the 2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards and Saturday Night Live are on hold or canceled due to the strike. 

It’s important to see just how important this strike is, as the last one was from 2007-08. Television and film writers have a huge job in the field that revolves around actively always being available for rewrites and other duties in the production process. Because the writers and AMPTP cannot meet an agreement, over 20 projects currently are on standstill or canceled. 

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