With a possible writers strike coming May 2, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations has strongly backed the Writers Guild of America.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the statement Thursday while negotiators were meeting behind closed doors for a third straight day. He cited WGA estimates that the major entertainment conglomerates made $51 billion in profits last year.
“The AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the members of Writers Guild of America, East, and Writers Guild of America, West, as they negotiate an industrywide collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, a trade group consisting of the major film and television companies,” Trumka said. “The members of the Writers Guilds deserve a fair return on their work at an incredibly profitable time for their industry.”
“The top six companies made $51 billion in profits in 2016,” he added. “Yet, the average television writer’s pay decreased by 23% over the last two years. Additionally, the writers need their employers to pay their fair share toward Guild-sponsored health benefit plans in order to keep up with the health care cost inflation affecting us all.”
The WGA and AMPTP have observed a media blackout since resuming talks on April 25, a day after guild members gave their leaders a strike authorization with 96.3% supporting among those who voted. Trumka also cited the WGA’s desire for an increase in company contributions to its health plan, which has been losing money in recent years.
“Nobody should be asked to sacrifice family-supporting pay and access to quality health care simply to pad the corporate profits that are a result of their hard work,” he said. “The AFL-CIO urges the AMPTP to come to agreement with the Writers Guilds before their contract’s expiration on May 1.”
The WGA last struck for 100 days from Nov. 5, 2007, to Feb. 12, 2008. Members of the WGA East and WGA West negotiate jointly on the master contract. The two branches have about 12,000 members.
The AFL-CIO consists 56 unions, including the WGA East and SAG-AFTRA. The WGA West and the Directors Guild of America are not members.
The NFL Players Association also sent a letter with similar language Thursday to the AMPTP.
“In the face of huge profits, declining employee pay and the prospect of losing health benefits – the NFLPA and its members – the nearly 1,700 football players of the National Football League – stand in solidarity with the Writers Guilds as they continue to negotiate for a fair and just contract for writers and their families,” the missive concluded.