Why did the writers vote to authorize a strike?
Every three years, the WGA works with the AMPTP to negotiate a new contract that is then authorized by its membership. With weeks of talks getting nowhere, the WGA overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike as a way of bargaining with the AMPTP if they couldn’t reach an agreement before their contract expired May 1.
Residuals—the money paid to the people who helped write, produce and appear in a piece of media when it’s re-aired—make up a hefty portion of a writer’s salary. And they’ve been largely affected by the explosion of streaming services.
Allow writer Michael Jones-Morales to explain: “The WGA contracts that currently exist were built upon a model where the content providers generated the revenue through ad sales. So, if I write an episode of television that re-airs over and over and over again, every time that episode re-airs, the content provider generates revenue and a little piece of that revenue gets shared with everyone that contributed to the creation of it. Now, their revenue is made almost exclusively through monthly or annual subscriptions. So there is no re-airing, people can watch what they want when they want, which means we’re not getting the same residuals.”
In other words, noted Abbott Elementary scribe Brittani Nichols, while she pockets $13,500 when an episode of the ABC series is replayed on network TV, when it hits Hulu and Disney+, “the amount that you’re paid for that episode being on new media—streaming—is $700.”