Talk about total mayhem. The buzz about the now-infamous Oscar moment in which La La Land was incorrectly announced as the Best Picture winner when Moonlight was in fact the deserved recipient of the award is just beginning to die down, but another fret-worthy situation is swiftly taking its place. According to several major outlets, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is on the brink of another writers' strike.
The last of eleven membership informational meetings in advance of next month's film and television contract negotiations was held this week, and the future isn't looking good. Deadline published several quotes from writers who attended the gathering at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, and it seems they're preparing for the worst.
"We're always ready for a strike," quipped one TV writer as the meeting adjourned. "Television is in another Golden Age and the companies are reaping record profits, but writers aren't sharing in that. Our incomes are going down, so it's going to be a tough negotiation."
Adds another, "Writers deserve more and the companies can afford to pay it... We may just have to fight for it. I pray that there will not be [a strike], but I fear that there will be one."
Strike details: why and where writers are taking financial hits
As the official contract negotiations loom, WGA members remain "unified" and state that they hope companies will recognize that their wage demands are "legitimate" and "reasonable."
According to guild records, the "overall median earnings increased 17.4% between 2008 and 2014," but guild leaders say that "the average income of members in both features and series TV have actually decreased over the [last] decade."
Film screenwriters have reportedly experienced wage decline due to the fact that fewer movies are released each year compared to 20 years ago. In fact, WGA West's annual reports show that screenwriters earn a third less now than they did in 1996 -- and that's even taking inflation into account.
TV writers averaged an annual income of $194,478 in 2015, which is $48,936 more than they made in 2006. But WGA members argue those numbers "are only based on guild minimums, and don't include the moneys they make as writers employed in additional capacities, such as producers and executive producers. And that's where TV writer-producers are taking it on the chin. Two recent guild surveys of its working members found a 23% overall decline in weekly compensation for series TV writer-producers from the 2013-14 season to the 2015-15 [sic] season -- a downward trend that guild officials maintain has been going on for a decade as the TV industry continues to go through a major restructuring."
Deadline reports that the leading cause for the downturn for TV writers is the shortening of many shows' seasons. That situation hasn't affected soap opera writers, who are still expected to write year-round, but they are nonetheless part of the WGA and will be pulled into a writers' strike if one happens after negotiations between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers begin on Monday, March 13.
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