CHICAGO — Members of a television writers union formed picket lines in the Loop Wednesday as a part of a nationwide strike, which has forced the late night comedy shows to go dark, and has delayed a number of other Hollywood television and film productions.
Writers Guild of America (WGA) members picketed in front of the NBC Tower in downtown Chicago as part of a strike that has stopped the production of late-night comedy shows, and postponed the production of numerous other shows and television series, including the Showtime series The Chi, which is shot in Chicago.
“We are watching the stability of television and film writing as a job, as a viable career, basically being erased,” said Martin Zimmerman, a WGA member and writer on the shows Narcos and Ozarks.
The WGA represents at least 11,500 TV, film, radio and online writers, with about 100 of them living and working in Chicago.
Those striking are asking for pay increases, while arguing that streaming has changed the profession, effectively denying them the opportunity to earn residuals when their scripts are syndicated or licensed.
Writers said they are also concerned with studios using mini-writers rooms, aka smaller staffs that are paid less to create shows, and the looming existential issue of how the industry uses artificial intelligence in the production of scripts.
The Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) and several other Chicago unions joined the WGA in solidarity Wednesday as well.
“This is not just a labor dispute about New York and Los Angeles,” said CFL President Bob Reiter.
The strike has either delayed or stopped production on films and TV shows in Los Angeles, New York, Maplewood (New Jersey), and Philadelphia, on top of the stoppage of shows in Chicago.
In a written statement, The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — the organization the WGA is deadlocked with in CBA negotiations — said, “Our goal is, and continues to be, to reach a fair and reasonable agreement. An agreement is only possible if the guild is committed to turning its focus to serious bargaining by engaging in full discussions of the issues with the companies and searching for reasonable compromises.”
The strike, which began May 1, is now in its third week.
The last time writers went on strike was in 2007, when the strike lasted 100 days and cost the entertainment industry more than an estimated $2 billion.