Arts & Entertainment

From the Picket Line to a Workable Contract: The Story of the Writers Guild of America’s 146 day strike

Sam Weiss

The new show on FX and Hulu,’ The Bear’, with critical and commercial appeal, has been growing in popularity all around the world. The mix of comedy, drama, and the anxiety-inducing chaos of what it is like to work in the restaurant industry, makes for a gripping show you can’t look away from. 

On Hulu, season 2 of ‘The Bear’ had gotten 853,000 minutes of watch time in just one week according to ‘the Deadline’. This puts at #5 on the Nielson Streaming top 10. But according to staff writer for ‘The Bear’, Alex O’Keafe, he was getting paid no residuals for the streaming. 

“As a staff writer, you’re writing and revising for everyone, but there’s no residuals on Hulu because it’s streaming,” O’Keefe told The New York Post. “That’s a huge injustice,” wrote ‘Deadline’.

Stories like these were more common than you think. Hundreds of thousands of writers getting no residuals from the tv shows and movies that they wrote, just because it was on a streaming service. This is what led to the Writers Guild of America to go on strike. 

March 20th, 2023, the Alliance of Movie Producers and Television Producers and the Writers Guild of America started having discussions about a new contract, but they eventually stalled, which led to the strike. The AMPTP is the representative for the Studios when negotiating with workers unions. 

According to Forbes magazine, May 1st, 2023, the WGA voted with a 97.9% approval to go on strike. May 2nd, 2023, the picket lines officially started. Many celebrity actors like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Margot Robbie came out in support of the writers. 

Strike captains who have platforms on social media like Adam Conover, from shows like ‘Adam Ruins Everything’, went live on twitch with twitch streamers HasanAbi and Caroline Kwan while picketing to spread the message of the WGA.

The historic strike lasted 146 days. In the middle of the WGA strike, the actors part of SAG-AFTRA went on strike as well, when they couldn’t strike a deal with the AMPTP as well. 

September 24th, 2023, the WGA and AMPTP came to a tentative agreement for the contract. Which means that the WGA will vote on whether they want to keep that contract or not. That contract will not be available to the public until their vote goes through.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” stated the WGA negotiating committee in an email they sent to WGA members once the deal was struck. 

Now that the writers have come to an agreement, that doesn’t mean the picket lines stop because SAG-AFTRA is still on strike and looking for their fair deal. But for the time being, this seems to be a huge win for writers and everyone in the film and tv industry. 

Leave a Reply