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Hollywood screenwriters strike, demand living wage and promises from employers

Sitcoms, late-night tv shows, movies, and everything in between will be feeling the pressure of an economic downturn soon, as the Writers Guild of America is organizing a strike.  

The Writers Guild of America, a union that represents around 11,500 writers, voted to strike, starting Tuesday.  The decision to move forward on such a pivotal action marks a fever pitch in the volatile contract negotiations the union has tried to negotiate with multiple media companies and streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount, etc.  

The union said in a statement: “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.”  

Further stressing a main point of contention, the statement went on to say, “The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels.”  

To this point, one of the embargoes to progress is a union demand that companies hire a certain number of writers for a certain amount of time, regardless of whether the writers are still needed up to that deadline or not.  

The union has pointed to the fact that many writers have had to work at minimums with an absolute disregard for the experience and resume of the writer.  Meanwhile, top executives have been enjoying large pay bumps in recent years.  

Streaming services have also been a large part of the grievances for writers, as they have gone with a model that emphasizes fewer episodes per season as opposed to the typical tv broadcast model.  This leaves writers constantly scrambling for work.  Also, residual fees, which are accrued when a show gets syndicated or airs overseas, have basically become a thing of the past in most situations.  

Many shows will take a while before the lack of writers will be felt by the average viewers; however, late-night tv shows will feel the pinch immediately, and many sitcoms will most likely have even shorter seasons as a result.  

Notably, companies like Netflix and Disney have been engaged in staff cuts and company restructuring as a result of financial dire straits.  


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