It’s been almost 10 years since the last writers’ strike in America, but there could be another one in a few more weeks. According to The Hollywood Reporter, if a new deal isn’t agreed on by May 1, when the current contracts are up, the Writers Guild of America is prepared to strike.
In a letter sent to Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Tuesday, members of the WGA said “In the event that we are unable to negotiate a new contract with the AMPTP, a work stoppage will begin May 2nd. Should this occur, writing for television, feature films and digital series will cease.”
Five days of negotiations will start on Monday. The WGA has strike authorization votes set up for Apr. 18-24.
The letter also reveals that the WGA is asking for $178.28 million across the industry and includes a breakdown of where the money would come from. $16.0 million of it would come from CBS, $21.20 million would come from Disney, $25.45 million would come from Fox, $17.90 million would come from NBC, $12.80 million would come from Sony, $27.40 million would come from Time Warner, $9.79 million would come from Viacom and $47.74 million would come from other producers. Those numbers are annual costs.
If the strike should happen, it would come at a time where networks make a majority of their decisions about what shows to renew and cancel for the next season and when the broadcast networks have their upfronts presentation, where the network executives meet with advertisers to talk about what went well for them in the last season and look ahead to the upcoming season and get the majority of their advertising money.
The main concerns for the members of the WGA is healthcare plans, solidifying the pension plans for retiring members and relief for middle class writers, who may be writing less episodes of TV as short-run series become more popular across the networks.
If there is a strike, it will affect summer scripted television and could potentially affect the start dates of fall TV programs. This happened during the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, which is currently the longest strike on record, lasting 155 days. The strike caused premieres of shows to be pushed back by six weeks.
The longest strike is the 1988 strike, followed by the 1960 strike. The most recent strike was the 2007-2008 strike, which lasted from Nov. 5, 2007 to Feb. 12, 2008, which ended up being 100 days.