We can now confirm: there will be no WGA strike in 2017. While labor unions as a whole have seemingly lost most of the power they once held in America, one of the few industries where unions still very much matter to the day to day operations is film and TV production. If a project is made by a Hollywood studio, the crew of that project is no doubt made up just about entirely of unionized professionals, and that most definitely includes the writers who write everyone’s favorite scripted TV series and movies. The union governing Hollywood writers is of course the WGA (Writers Guild of America).
In recent weeks, tensions both within the industry and among fans of scripted entertainment have run high, as ongoing contract negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, in essence, the studios themselves) appeared to be accomplishing little, with members of the WGA recently voting overwhelmingly to authorize a strike should an amicable deal not be reached by the end of the current contract on May 1st.
The stated deadline for talks to end – and a WGA strike to likely begin – was midnight (PST) last night, but thankfully, Deadline reports that the two sides elected to keep going past that time, eventually hammering out an agreement in the early AM hours. While the brokered deal now technically heads to the governing bodies of both the WGA West and WGA East for approval – and then onto the WGA members themselves to be ratified – those steps are basically a formality at this point, with the WGA already releasing a statement outlining the gains they made via the new contract.
This is obviously a big win for not only all sectors of the entertainment industry, but for those who love a steady diet of new films and TV shows to enjoy. The last WGA strike – which started in late 2007, and lasted for just over three months – threw Hollywood’s pipeline into disarray, especially effecting the production of daily programming like soap operas and late night comedy shows that had no already banked scripts to draw from for material.
Multiple TV shows (such as The Big Bang Theory and Supernatural) also saw their seasons drastically shortened as a result, and the whole ordeal is estimated to have cost the Los Angeles economy millions, as well as causing economic pain for those Hollywood workers not able to earn a living during that time. As with their previous deal, the new agreement between the WGA and AMPTP will be good for three years. Hopefully, the two sides don’t end up in this situation again in 2020.