Amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, the union’s leaders are suggesting that the studio member companies of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) break from the organization and negotiate with them individually.
“[D]uring individual conversations with legacy studio executives in the weeks since SAG-AFTRA went on strike, we have heard both the desire and willingness to negotiate an agreement that adequately addresses writers’ issues,” the WGA‘s negotiating committee wrote in an email to members, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “One executive said they had reviewed our proposals, and though they did not commit to a specific deal, said our proposals would not affect their company’s bottom line and that they recognized they must give more than usual to settle this negotiation. Another said they needed a deal badly. Those same executives — and others — have said they are willing to negotiate on proposals that the AMPTP has presented to the public as deal breakers. On every single issue we are asking for we have had at least one legacy studio executive tell us they could accommodate us.”
There is ‘no requirement’ to negotiate through the AMPTP
The email continues, “So, while the intransigence of the AMPTP structure is impeding progress, these behind-the-scenes conversations demonstrate there is a fair deal to be made that addresses our issues. Given the outsized economic impact of the strikes on the legacy companies, their individual studio interest in making a deal isn’t surprising. Warner Bros. confirmed this in a public financial filing just this week … We have made it clear that we will negotiate with one or more of the major studios, outside the confines of the AMPTP, to establish the new WGA deal. There is no requirement that the companies negotiate through the AMPTP. So, if the economic destabilization of their own companies isn’t enough to cause a studio or two or three to either assert their own self-interest inside the AMPTP, or to break away from the broken AMPTP model, perhaps Wall Street will finally make them do it.”
In the meantime, the WGA cautions that “[u]ntil there is a breakthrough, the companies and AMPTP will try to sow doubt and internal guild dissension. Keep your radar up. When the companies send messages through surrogates or the press about the unreasonableness of your guild leadership, take those messages as part of a bad-faith effort to influence negotiations and not as the objective truth … The companies know the truth: they must negotiate if they want to end the strike. They may not like it — they may try to obscure it — but they know it.”
The 2023 WGA strike enters its fifth month
The WGA West and WGA East went on strike on May 2 after contract negotiations with the AMPTP (which represents all the major Hollywood studios) broke own. Four months and six days later, the AMPTP has yet to meet the WGA’s demands, which include better residuals from streaming content, bigger writers’ rooms, and safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence.
Since July 14, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) has joined the WGA on the picket line after also voting to strike against the AMPTP. Much like the writers, the actors are seeking better residuals and protections against AI, as well as greater regulation of self-tape auditions. At the time of writing, SAG-AFTRA has been on strike for one month, three weeks, and four days.