LA County supervisors to throw formal support behind writers' strike

City News Service
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
SAG-AFTRA members overwhelmingly authorize strike
Members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, the union announced.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to formally throw its support behind the Writers Guild of America on Tuesday, as the strike by more than 11,500 WGA members against Hollywood studios continues.

"The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unequivocally stands in solidarity with the WGA and believe their negotiation positions to be reasonable and necessary," according to a motion by Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Kathryn Barger.

Contract negotiations between WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have been stalled, with the studios focusing on talks with the Directors Guild of America -- with which it reached a tentative labor agreement over the weekend.

The board motion blamed the writers strike on "the changing business model of the entertainment industry toward streaming services." This, the motion contends, has led to shorter assignments "leaving many writers underpaid and overworked."

Meanwhile, according to the motion, "studios have collected almost $30 billion (annually) in profits between 2017 and 2021." The motion suggests that such profits might not be sustainable unless the producers treat the writers fairly.

The AMPTP has downplayed some of the union's demands, insisting that writers were given substantial bumps in streaming residuals under the last contract. Studios have also challenged the union's demand on minimum numbers of writers on projects and work guarantees.

If the motion is approved Tuesday, the board would send a letter signed by all five board members to producers expressing their support of the WGA and urging the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table.

SAG/AFTRA will be the next Hollywood labor union to negotiate with studios as voting to authorize a strike began Monday.

The AMPTP is scheduled on Wednesday to begin contract talks with SAG- AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors. SAG-AFTRA announced Monday that its membership had overwhelmingly approved a strike-authorization vote, giving the union the ability to call a strike if contract talks are unsuccessful.

SAG-AFTRA members voted 97.91% in favor of authorizing a strike if needed, with nearly 65,000 people -- nearly half of the union's membership -- casting ballots. SAG-AFTRA's contract with AMPTP expires at the end of the June.

The AMPTP issued a statement Monday night saying, "We are approaching these negotiations with the goal of achieving a new agreement that is beneficial to SAG-AFTRA members and the industry overall."

Many actors and SAG-AFTRA officials have already been spotted walking picket lines over the past month in solidarity with the WGA.