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The WGA Strike Has Officially Reached A Long Awaited Ending

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Back in early May of this year, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) announced a labor stoppage which led to the halt in production for many films and shows. As their former contract came to an end, the WGA went on strike to negotiate their demands regarding unfair pay and business practices by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The WGA is represented by writers in film, radio, television, and media while the AMPTP makes up a majority of large production companies and streaming platforms. 

Although, this is not the first time a strike has ensued. According to the WGA, there have now been eight labor stoppages since the mid-1900s. Each time, the union hit the picket lines to protest against their parent companies’ greed. A common theme in all of these strikes is that the big corporations were making huge profits without considering fair pay and working opportunities for their writers. 

In May of 2023, the WGA began the strike with a few, specific issues in mind. According to the New York Times, one reason is the threat of artificial intelligence. Many writers fear AI will erode their employment if production companies begin to rely on this technology to create their content. The WGA was also fighting against “mini rooms.” These are smaller writers’ rooms, where writers gather to write for a project that hasn’t yet been approved to be launched. In other words, writers worked on unreliable projects that could’ve left writers scrambling for work if they were pulled. Another issue is that while streaming platforms begin to take precedence over television and film, work opportunities are lessening. For example, the usual season for a television show used to be about twenty episodes. Now, they can be as little as about five. This threatens job security for many writers in the industry. 

A major issue and reason for the strike was proper compensation. Many writers used to rely on residual checks, which used to be a solid source of income when media was rerun. Residuals are now much different in regards to the rise of streaming platforms, according to Rolling Stone. Residuals now typically only cover a set amount of time after the airing of a show or film. Alex O’Keefe, a writer on the hit Hulu series “The Bear” shared an example of experiencing unstable income. , He shared with the BBC that as he accepted an award for best comedy series at the WGA awards, he was wearing a rented bow tie with a negative bank account balance. How can these production companies expect their writers to create hit projects for them while they can barely afford to live in the areas they need to in order to do this? 

As of Sept. 26, the 148-day strike has reached an end, just a few days shy of becoming the longest WGA labor stoppage. According to Vox, the AMPTP has reached an agreement regarding a new contract. This is a turning point in WGA’s history. The strike made a huge impact. According to KCRW, the strike has caused billions in economic fallout. It’s been made clear that a labor strike can be a powerful tool in the fight against greedy capitalist corporations. Let this be a clear takeaway of the power of union strikes. 

Abigale Darnell (she/her) is a student in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University with a minor in Creative Writing. She has an interest in holistic wellness, female empowerment, fashion and pop culture.