Brittani Nichols, a writer on ABC’s Emmy-winning series “Abbott Elementary” and a Writers’ Guild of America West captain, spoke with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now about the stakes of the film and TV writers’ strike that began on Tuesday.
“We are demanding that this industry be one that can sustain a career,” Nichols told the news outlet. “We have a consistently profitable business, but right now the actions of the studios are ones that seem like they only care about Wall Street.”
“They’re running over the workers of this industry,” Nichols later added.
Nichols also explained a bit more as to why the streaming revolution has become a factor in what led to this strike, saying, “the studios have devalued our contributions. They have shifted the industry to prioritize streaming, while not following that up with the actions of making sure that our pay reflects those changes.”
Nichols noted that “a lot of the ways that writers are able to sustain a career are through residuals. That means that we’re taking part in that profit participation when a show gets reaired or a show gets sold or a movie gets aired. That’s when we get a little bit of that pie. And the amount of the pie that we’re getting in streaming is almost nonexistent.”
Negotiations with the studios and their collective representative – the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers – have gone nowhere, Nichols mentioned, going on to say that they “just want to continue to get as much work out of us for the least amount of money.”
“TV writer pay has fallen 23% when you adjust for inflation,” Nichols explained. “So it’s really affecting every writer, from staff writer all the way up to show runners. It’s a product of this corporate cannibalization. And our decreased, not even just stagnant, wages are making it impossible for anyone to put a career together.”
On Monday night, the Writers’ Guild of America officially called for a strike after failing to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers when the WGA’s current contract expired just before midnight.
Members of the WGA have already begun picketing as of Tuesday afternoon outside of various studios in Los Angeles on the heels of news that the late night shows and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” will air reruns in place of new shows, becoming the first visible manifestation of the strike.