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Hollywood Strike Intensifies After Another Failed Negotiation Between Producers and Writers

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Hollywood Strike Intensifies After Another Failed Negotiation Between Producers and Writers

Members of the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists join the writers' strike launched by the Writers Guild of America in front of the Walt Disney Co.'s corporate headquarters in Burbank, Calif., on May 17, 2023. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

8/23/2023

Updated: 8/23/2023

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The standoff between Hollywood studios and striking writers was intensifying on Aug. 23, one day after a meeting between union negotiators and studio heads failed to result in any movement toward a labor contract, and the union accusing studios of attempting to sow discontent among writers.
According to a message sent late on Aug. 22 to Writers Guild of America members by the union’s negotiating team, union leaders met with representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and executives including Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros./Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Universal Chairwoman Donna Langley, and Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos.
Union officials said they attended the meeting “in hopes that the companies were serious about getting the industry back to work,” but they were instead “met with a lecture about how good their single and only counteroffer was.”
“But this wasn’t a meeting to make a deal. This was a meeting to get us to cave, which is why, not 20 minutes after we left the meeting, the alliance released its summary of their proposals,” according to the guild message to members. “This was the companies’ plan from the beginning—not to bargain, but to jam us. It is their only strategy—to bet that we will turn on each other.”
Alliance officials released a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, and other select outlets on Tuesday professing to be focused on resolving the strike and touting the benefits of the alliance’s counter-offer to union proposals.
“The offer recognizes the foundational role writers play in the industry and underscores the companies’ commitment to ending the strike,” according to the statement from the alliance, which bargains on behalf of the major studios and streamers.
According to the alliance, the studios’ offer includes the largest pay bump for the guild in 35 years, with an increase of 5 percent in the first year, along with bumps of 4 percent and 3.5 percent in the following two years.
The guild had sought a 6 percent increase to minimums and residual bases in the first year, followed by 5 percent increases in the second and third years, according to The Times.
Hollywood actors join the industry’s writers on the picket line after their union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), authorized a strike against major studios, outside of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif., on July 14, 2023. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Hollywood actors join the industry’s writers on the picket line after their union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), authorized a strike against major studios, outside of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif., on July 14, 2023. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

The studio offer also includes increased authority for showrunners to determine staffing in the writing room, along with extensive protections for writers against the use of artificial intelligence and increases in residuals for streaming programs. The studios have also agreed to provide details on streaming viewership numbers. The guild has been pushing to tie compensation to those viewership numbers.
“Our priority is to end the strike so that valued members of the creative community can return to what they do best and to end the hardships that so many people and businesses that service the industry are experiencing,” alliance President Carol Lombardini said in a statement.
In its message to guild members, union negotiators said that during Tuesday’s meeting, they “explained all the ways in which their counter’s limitations and loopholes and omissions failed to sufficiently protect writers from the existential threats that caused us to strike in the first place. We told them that a strike has a price, and that price is an answer to all—and not just some—of the problems they have created in the business.”
Union officials said they plan to release more details on Wednesday about the studio’s offer and a “more detailed description of the state of the negotiations.”
The guild went on strike May 2. They were joined on the picket lines byScreen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television actors last month, effectively shutting down all production.
The studios have generally said they want both guilds to agree to similar terms already approved by the Directors Guild of America, which includes a roughly 12.5 percent salary increase and an estimated 21 percent jump in streaming residuals, along with assurances that artificial intelligence will not supplant the duties of human beings.
More than 3,000 union members from both guilds participated in a rally in front of Walt Disney Co.’s Burbank office on Tuesday is a show of solidarity.
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