This day in history

February 12 in history marks the day that the 100-day writer's strike in Hollywood ended in 2008. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) began the strike on Nov. 5, 2007, as a result of failed contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The AMPTP represents the interests of more than 300 production companies.

Disagreements began when WGA writers demanded a share of the revenue from shows and movies being aired on the Internet and other kinds of new distribution technologies.

Billions in Lost Wages and Revenue

The writer’s strike served to damage the entertainment industry far more than the AMPTP initially expected. Some estimate that it cost the local economy in Los Angeles over $3 billion in lost wages and lost business. During the strike, a lot of TV-lovers had to go without new episodes of their favorite television programs.

Four months into the strike, on Feb. 8, the WMA and AMPTP arrived at a tentative agreement to resolve the dispute, which was ratified on Feb. 10. The writers approved the deal on Feb. 12, which finalized the matter once and for all.

The new arrangement entitled WGA members to receive residual income from TV shows aired on the Internet at a higher rate than they received from DVDs. The writers would also receive money relating to TV shows, and the union contract would apply to any WGA writers hired to create content for the Internet. In order to ink the deal, WGA writers agreed to a number of concessions. Among them, studios were permitted to hire non-union writers to write for low-budget Internet productions. Also, television reruns shown on the Internet several weeks after airing on television would not pay residuals to writers.

Are You Being Taken Advantage of at Work?

Writers are not the only ones who fall prey to large corporations seeking to extract as much labor as possible as cheaply possible. Indeed, it is important for exploited workers to know that federal and state laws protect workers from poor working conditions and unfair pay. If you feel that you are being taken advantage of by your employer or that your working conditions are unfair and unlawful, you may wish to contact a labor and employment law attorney to evaluate your legal rights in the matter.