President Biden Praises End of WGA Strike

Joe Biden WGA Strike
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For over 145 days, Hollywood’s writers stepped out of the studios and onto the picket lines. On May 2, the Writers Guild of America announced that its more than 11,500 members would be on strike. The strike would continue until a new contract agreement could be made with the AMPTP — Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The AMPTP team was led by Disney CEO Bob Iger, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav, and Carol Lombardini, the President of the AMPTP.

Bob Iger Disney CEO

Credit: Disney

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In the more than four months since the strike began, the AMPTP and WGA representatives met multiple times, with both sides disappointed in the outcome. The WGA accused the AMPTP of purposefully leaking the details of a proposed deal as a way to get the WGA to back down. The AMPTP accused the WGA of not being willing to negotiate, even though the AMPTP was compromising.

Writers Strike

Credit: Eric Appel, Flickr

However, on the evening of September 24, the two sides finally came to a tentative agreement. Now, all that is left is for the members of the WGA to vote on and approve of the new contract. Should that happen, the writers will get back to work, and film and television productions can begin to move forward.

The fact that the strike — one of them — could soon be over is being praised by many, including President Joe Biden. On Monday, September 25, the President released a statement, commending both sides for their willingness to work together.

Joe Biden

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The statement read:

“I applaud the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for reaching a tentative agreement that will allow writers to return to the important work of telling the stories of our nation, our world — and of all of us. This agreement, including assurances related to artificial intelligence, did not come easily. But its formation is a testament to the power of collective bargaining. There simply is no substitute for employers and employees coming together to negotiate in good faith toward an agreement that makes a business stronger and secures the pay, benefits and dignity that workers deserve. I urge all employers to remember that all workers — including writers, actors and autoworkers — deserve a fair share of the value their labor helped create.”

WGA Strike

Credit: Diane Greene Lent, Flickr

This was not the first time that the president addressed the strike. Not long after the strike began, The White House had a showing of American Born Chinese, a new series created for Disney+. Both the production team and Disney executives attended the screening.

During the screening, Biden said, “This is an iconic, meaningful American industry, and we need the writers and all the workers and everyone involved to tell the stories of our nation, the stories of all of us.”

A Strike Against Streaming & AI

When the Writers Guild strike began on May 2, there were a number of issues that the writers needed addressed before they would let productions continue. The biggest issue — and the one that took the longest to resolve — was the use of artificial intelligence. The writers wanted protections in place that would protect them from being replaced by artificial chatbots like ChatGPT.

Writers Strike

Credit: Josie Huang Twitter

Another big issue was streaming. The last time the writers had a new contract, streaming was not really addressed. That is because the contracts were pre-pandemic and streaming was not as prominent as it is now.

The issues with the rise of streaming were two-fold. Firstly, streaming seasons tend to be shorter than traditional cable shows. Because of that, the writers for streaming shows were employed for less time than they would be if they worked on a cable show. Streaming shows were also not paying writers as much as cable shows, with many writers who had been in Hollywood for years being paid guild minimums.

Disney Plus password sharing

Credit: Disney

Then there is the problem with streaming numbers and residuals (how much writers make when an episode or movie is re-aired or re-streamed). More than once, studios have been accused of not being open and honest about actual streaming numbers. The WGA wanted to require studios to be more transparent with streaming numbers, that way proper residual amounts could be determined.

Hollywood Still on Strike

Even though it looks like the writers’ strike is coming to an end, things in Hollywood are still not completely back to normal. The WGA is not the only guild on strike. Two months after the writers’ strike began, the Screen Actors Guild also went on strike. Every major actor in nearly every major film and television production is a member of SAG.

Meredith Stiehm, left, president of Writers Guild of America West, and Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA

Credit: Herman de Keyperling, Flickr

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After SAG went on strike, studios essentially shut down, with productions dipping to levels not seen since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAG actors are still on strike, with no negotiating meetings with the AMPTP announced at this time. SAG President Fran Drescher has said that the guild is prepared to remain on strike for six months. She also bashed Bob Iger for comments made just prior to the strike, calling him an “ignoramus” and saying, “he stuck his foot in it so bad.”

Bob Iger Disney World

Credit: Bob Iger Twitter

Shortly after a tentative agreement was reached between the WGA and the AMPTP, SAG commended the guild for its hard work. SAG then urged the AMPTP to return to the table, so the two sides could “achieve the necessary terms” needed to end the strike.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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