Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — The county Board of Supervisors unanimously threw its support behind the Writers Guild of America June 6, as the strike by more than 11,500 WGA members against Hollywood studios continued.
“The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unequivocally stands in solidarity with the WGA and believe their negotiation positions to be reasonable and necessary,” according to the motion by Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Kathryn Barger.
Contract negotiations between WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have been stalled, with the studios focusing on talks with the Directors Guild of America — with which it reached a tentative labor agreement over the weekend.
“Who are we as Angelenos without the art of storytelling? Stories shape our culture and identity. The characters in television and movies allow us to imagine, to laugh, to relate and to dream,” Horvath said in a statement following the vote. “Stories are crafted by the over 11,500 writers represented by the WGA. Today is their 35th day on strike rightly demanding the respect and fair compensation they deserve for the role they play in Los Angeles’ creative economy. The Board of Supervisors unanimously and resolutely supports our writers, and we call on AMPTP to come back to the negotiating table with a fair and equitable contract.”
The board motion blamed the strike on “the changing business model of the entertainment industry toward streaming services,” leading to shorter assignments and “leaving many writers underpaid and overworked.”
Meanwhile, according to the motion, “studios have collected almost $30 billion (annually) in profits between 2017 and 2021.” The motion suggests that such profits might not be sustainable unless the producers treat the writers fairly.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has downplayed some of the union’s demands, insisting that writers were given substantial bumps in streaming residuals under the last contract. Studios have also challenged the union’s demand on minimum numbers of writers on projects and work guarantees.
As a result of its vote, the board will send a letter signed by all five board members to producers expressing their support of the WGA and urging the alliance to return to the bargaining table.
The alliance was scheduled to begin contract talks with SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors June 7. SAG-AFTRA announced Monday that its membership had overwhelmingly approved a strike-authorization vote, giving the union the ability to call a strike if contract talks are unsuccessful.
SAG-AFTRA members voted 97.91% in favor of authorizing a strike if needed, with nearly 65,000 people — nearly half of the union’s membership — casting ballots. SAG-AFTRA’s contract with the alliance expires at the end of the month.
The alliance issued a statement June 5 saying, “We are approaching these negotiations with the goal of achieving a new agreement that is beneficial to SAG-AFTRA members and the industry overall.”
Many actors and SAG-AFTRA officials have already been spotted walking picket lines over the past month in solidarity with the WGA.