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The WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes – How do they affect 2024?

The Strikes Are Over, What Now?

For 146 days, starting from May 2nd, 2023 and ending September 25th, 2023, the WGA (Writers Guild of America) were on strike in Hollywood due to demand for a new contract. Every three years on May 1st, WGA and AMPTP  (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) create and negotiate on a contract. However, when the WGA faced difficulties to negotiate on a new contract, the WGA strike sprung into action. This later led to the SAG-AFTRA joining the strike, as they were willing to fight for the same cause. With the strike being over, some people may not have had any concerns with the protest itself, however, the impact of the strike brought a delay to TV shows/movie productions, since it was preventing the writers from continuing on with their job. This strike definitely left a mark on 2023, and as we enter 2024, we need to pay attention to its continuing effects. But, why is this strike so significant? Let’s review what the strike was, the importance, and the outcome of what the new contract includes. 

Why is the SAG-AFTRA Strike a big deal? 

Without the creative minds of the writers and screenwriters, TV shows and movies wouldn’t have the thrill and excitement that comes with this type of entertainment. Thanks to our talented and amazing writers, people all over the world can sit back and relax, and enjoy pure entertainment that lives on the screen. Viewers can enjoy different genres, in different languages, which makes it guaranteed that everyone will find something in their interest. Writers are the people that create the fantasy world with magical adventures that people admire. They generate the dialogue, the plots, the characters itself and piece it all together to create an epic story for people’s amusement. Whether it’s an original idea or an idea that’s adapted from somewhere else (such as video games, books, etc) for all the shows and movies people enjoy, someone had to write it all out. From this past year, WGA have faced complications with AMPTP with their new contract, since AMPTP have been pushing towards using controlled artificial intelligence (AI). This is a huge point of contention in the entertainment space, and it was making working conditions a struggle. With no agreement on their new contract, they unfortunately, at that time, passed the deadline for their contract. This erupts the beginning of the strike, which many actors, such as Amanda Seyfried, George Clooney, Adam Sandler and more, were fully supportive of. 

Shortly after on May 2nd, late night show programs began to close down such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which also initially started the WGA strike. Jimmy Fallon said upon the action of the strike “I wouldn’t have a show if it wasn’t for my writers and I support them all the way… Whatever I can do to support the guild…I’m actually in the guild as well, so yeah. I couldn’t do my show without them. I support my whole staff.” Followed by this action, Jeopardy! hosted by Mayim Bialik stepped in the protest and left the concluding week of filming its 39th season. Drew Barrymore, who was going to be the host, dropped out of being the host of the MTV Movie and TV Awards for similar reasons. 

On July 13th, 2023, SAG-AFTRA united with WGA accompanied by their approval of their own strike, which however put a few movies and TV shows on an unknown hold. Cast members from Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Cillian Murphy, and Matt Damon left their premiere in England when the announcement of the strike began. However, on August 4th, 2023, AMPTP were willing to expand offers on “few writer- specific TV minimums and talk about AI”, but weren’t open to undertake the issues of the screenwriters and other propositions, which made it a failure towards WGA to accomplish a deal. August 9th, 2023 soon approached and marked the 100th day of the WGA strike with no end in sight. 

Victory for WGA and SAG-AFTRA! – How does the new contract impact writers in the future? 

WGA were successful in their strike, which concluded on September 25th, 2023, after 146 days and were capable of making an unconfirmed deal with AMPTP, and then the following day, the contract was confirmed and modified on September 26th. This new contract, which will expire in 3 years, contained an enlargement in payment for every member. It also included securement with the usage of AI, payments found on the fame of streaming devices, and guidelines for smallest staff size in television writers’ rooms. 

On November 9th, 2023 at 12:01 am PST, SAG-AFTRA were successful in their strike as well,  and were able to make a deal on their contract with AMPTP. Their new contract includes an elevation of more than $1 billion towards benefit finances and new wages along with protection from the use of AI. The SAG-AFTRA members were aware that even though the agreement didn’t cover everything that was originally asked for, the leaders are persisting eagerness with the win of their negotiations, which can lead for a brighter future for the SAG-AFTRA writers and actors.

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