Writers strike: Thousands participate in march and ahead of rally in Mid-Wilshire

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Thursday, June 22, 2023
Writers strike: Thousands participate in march and before rally in LA
Thousands of striking writers and allies marched from Pan Pacific Park toward a planned multi-union rally, carrying signs and looking to stir support for strikers.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With the Writers Guild of America strike now in its eighth week and no end in sight, thousands of union members and supporters marched from Pan Pacific Park toward a planned multi-union rally Wednesday, carrying signs and looking to stir support for strikers.

Representatives from the WGA West, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the Directors Guild of America and the Teamsters, among others, gathered at the park around at 10 a.m. and then set off for the planned noon rally on the Great Lawn of the La Brea Tar Pits.

The WGA's website billed the event as a "fight for a fair share of the wealth we create for studios."

"It's an inspiration, not just to everyone currently working in the industry, but to the next generation; the next generation of writers, actors and every worker in the entertainment industry," said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of SAG-AFTRA. "That next generation is relying on all of our resilience."

Picketing continues to be an almost-daily feature outside all the major Los Angeles-area studios, but to diminishing media attention. Wednesday's large rally is the second multi-union event in which the WGA has participated since the walkout began, following a similar event in downtown L.A. on May 26.

"When streamers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Apple came into our industry, the studios exploited the changing landscapes of our business to increase their profits at the expense of our livelihoods," said WGA West member Liz Alper.

The WGA's roughly 20,000 members walked off the job May 2 -- shuttering many scripted productions and also leaving thousands of other behind- the-scenes workers without a livelihood.

On June 4, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, reached a tentative three-year deal with the Directors Guild of America -- and on June 7, AMPTP began contract talks with SAG-AFTRA, which represents actors.

But there has been no word of any talks between the WGA and AMPTP.

According to the SEIU, the labor union representing these essential workers, roughly 50 janitors have been laid off as a result of the writers' strike.

The WGA is pushing for improvements on a variety of fronts, notably for higher residual pay for streaming programs that have larger viewership, rather than the existing model that pays a standard rate regardless of a show's success.

The union is also calling for industry standards on the number of writers assigned to each show, increases in foreign streaming residuals and regulations preventing the use of artificial intelligence technology to write or rewrite any literary material.

The AMPTP has pushed back against some of the WGA's demands, particularly around its calls for mandatory staffing and employment guarantees on programs.

"These proposals require studios to staff a show with a certain number of writers who will be hired for a specified period of time that may not align with the creative process," according to the alliance. "If writing needs to be done, writers are hired, but these proposals require the employment of writers whether they're needed for the creative process or not. While the WGA has argued that the proposal is necessary to preserv(e) the writers' room,' it is in reality a hiring quota that is incompatible with the creative nature of our industry."

AMPTP has also pushed back against WGA demands around streaming residuals, saying the guild's offer would increase rates by 200%.

The use of artificial intelligence has also emerged as a major topic.

The WGA says it wants a ban on the use of AI, and contends the AMPTP has refused to even negotiate the issue. The AMPTP said the issue raises "important creative and legal questions" and requires "a lot more discussion, which we've committed to doing."

The agreement reached between AMPTP and the DGA includes a 12.5% salary increase over a three-year period, plus a "substantial" increase in residuals for streaming content -- including a 76% increase in foreign residuals for the largest platforms and mutual confirmation that artificial intelligence is not a person and cannot replace the duties performed by DGA members.

That deal came after less than a month of negotiations, ahead of a June 30 expiration of the guild's current contract.

The last WGA strike lasted from November 2007 until February 2008. Industry experts estimated that 100-day strike cost the local economy between $2 billion and $3 billion.

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.