In 2007 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike for 100 days, bringing much of the entertainment industry to a halt. The action left tens of thousands of workers idled and reportedly cost the Los Angeles economy $2 billion. The writers eventually reached a deal with Hollywood studios and ended a dire situation that neither side wanted to see happen again.
Ten years later, though, these two groups found themselves at yet another stalemate during discussions over a new union contract. Along with preserving their health care plan, WGA members wanted to increase their salaries for streaming shows as well as receive larger residual checks for online reruns of old shows. These demands are similar to ones made in 2007 when the guild wanted a bigger cut of the money made from DVD releases. Once again advancements in technology led to new labor disputes that caused writers to butt heads with studios.
Unlike 2007, however, this time they reached an agreement before the arguments turned into a strike. The previous contract between studios and the WGA was set to expire at midnight on Monday. By that point the two factions still hadn’t agreed on a new deal, potentially setting the stage for a strike as early as Tuesday morning. But by 1 a.m. both producers and writers had finally agreed on a new contract and avoided another work stoppage. While the WGA didn’t have all of their demands met, union leaders say they still brokered a deal that would earn union members an additional $130 million over the contract’s three-year span. So TV and movie lovers can once again breathe a sigh of relief— at least until this current deal expires, of course.
- Why was the 2007 Writers Guild strike so devastating to the Los Angeles economy?
- How can advancements in technology lead to labor disputes?
Source: Brooks Barnes, “Hollywood Writers and Studios, Scrambling to Avert Strike, Reach Last-Minute Deal,” The New York Times, May 1, 2017. Photo by John Edwards.