After three months, Hollywood studios are finally ready to discuss contract negotiations with the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Yesterday, Carol Lombardini, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), reached out to Ellen Stutzman, the WGA’s chief negotiator, to set a meeting for later this week.
“The AMPTP, through Carol Lombardini, reached out to the WGA today and requested a meeting this Friday to discuss negotiations,” the union wrote in a message to its members last night. “We’ll be back in communication with you sometime after the meeting with further information. As we’ve said before, be wary of rumors. Whenever there is important news to share, you will hear it directly from us.”
This marks the first communication between the two sides since May 1 when the WGA voted to go on strike. Prior to the strike, talks between the WGA and AMPTP stalled after they failed to reach an agreement about a number of issues, including viewership-based residuals, minimum staffing levels, and regulation of the use of AI.
Showrunner and writer Mike Schur, who is a member of the WGA negotiating committee, recently told Variety that the union was waiting for AMPTP to make the first move. “The plan is for them to call us on the phone and ask us to sit down,” he said. “We’re not calling them.”
In July, SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 actors and performers, joined the WGA on the picket lines. Both strikes have caused a massive ripple effect in Hollywood. Late-night shows have been dark since the WGA strike began and the 75th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were recently postponed to an unspecified date. SAG-AFTRA has yet to resume negotiations with AMPTP.
Multiple politicians have voiced their support for the striking workers. In May, President Joe Biden discussed the WGA strike at screening of the Disney+ series American Born Chinese.
“Nights like these are a reminder of the power of stories, and the importance of treating storytellers with dignity, respect and the value they deserve,” Biden said. “I sincerely hope the writers strike in Hollywood gets resolved, and the writers are given a fair deal that they deserve as soon as possible.”
He added, “This is an iconic, meaningful American industry, and we need the writers and all the workers and everyone involved to tell the stories of our nation, the stories of all of us.”
Last month, the White House confirmed that the president also supports SAG-AFTRA. “The president believes all workers – including actors – deserve fair pay and benefits,” Robyn Patterson, a White House spokesperson, said in a statement. “The president supports workers’ right to strike and hopes the parties can reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”
The dual action from SAG-AFTRA and WGA is the first time since 1960 that both unions have been on strike simultaneously.