Writers Guild Restarts Negotiations With Studios Amid Strike

The WGA will reportedly respond to the AMPTP next week.

The Writers Guild of America has resumed talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, for the first time since the writers' strike went into effect months ago. On Friday night, WGA leadership sent an email to members (via Variety), revealing that a meeting with the AMPTP occurred earlier that day, and led to a new package of proposals from the studios. The plan is reportedly for the WGA to respond to the AMPTP sometime next week, although there's no telling if that could result in a deal between the two.

"We will evaluate their offer and, after deliberation, go back to them with the WGA's response next week," the guild told members. "Sometimes more progress can be made in negotiations when they are conducted without a blow-by-blow description of the moves on each side and a subsequent public dissection of the meaning of the moves. That will be our approach, at least for the time being, until there is something of significance to report, or unless management uses the media or industry surrogates to try to influence the narrative."

When Did the WGA and AMPTP Meet?

Last week, it was reported that WGA chief negotiator Ellen Stutzman and WGA West general counsel Tony Segall met with the AMPTP, but a potential deal was stalled over two key issues. According to the reporting on the meeting, the biggest issues to remain after the meeting concern episodic television, particularly minimum staffing levels and a guaranteed minimum number of weeks of employement. The AMPTP reportedly still views the WGA's proposals on those topics "non-starters."

The reporting also revealed that the SAG-AFTRA actors' strike, which began last July, is further complicating the negotiations. Reportedly, Stutzman and Segall told the AMPTP that even if a deal is closed with the WGA, the writers will not start work until both strikes are resolved. That being said, sources cited in the report say that both sides expect to continue communicating in the next few days, after communicating with their respective groups.

Why Are the WGA Striking?

The WGA have cited a slew of reasons for the strike, which began on May 1st and has already had a domino effect on the larger industry. The union hopes to see improvements in residuals from media streamed online, as well as additional benefits and safeguards against artificial intelligence potentially being used to write stories instead of real writers.

"Though we negotiated intent on making a fair deal — and though your strike vote gave us the leverage to make some gains — the studios' responses to our proposals have been wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing," the WGA said in a statement on May 1st. "We must now exert the maximum leverage possible to get a fair contract by withholding our labor."

The statement continued: "The WGA Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, but the studios' responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing. The companies' behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing. From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a 'day rate' in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership."