Historical Moment for Creative Professionals: The SAG and WGA Strikes and the Importance of Industry Labor Movements

Today marks Day 1 of a historical moment in the history of working Creative Professionals- something we know a lot about at Blended Sense. 

The entertainment industry has always captivated audiences worldwide, enchanting us with its remarkable storytelling and exceptional performances. Behind the glitz and glamor, however, lies an intricate network of professionals who work tirelessly to create these captivating narratives. Among them are the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA), two influential unions that represent actors and writers respectively. 

But before diving into the current strikes, it is essential to understand the role of labor unions in the entertainment industry. Labor unions act as collective bargaining units that safeguard the rights and welfare of workers. They negotiate contracts, advocate for fair pay, and promote better working conditions. The SAG and WGA are prime examples of such unions, championing the interests of actors and writers, respectively.

The SAG Strike

The Screen Actors Guild, comprising approximately 160,000 members, embarked on a strike to address several critical issues. One of the primary concerns revolves around compensation for streaming platforms. As the popularity of online streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ continues to soar, actors are demanding fair wages and residual payments for their work on these platforms. Currently, many streaming contracts fail to offer residuals, resulting in actors missing out on long-term compensation.

Additionally, the SAG strike aims to tackle the pervasive issue of workplace harassment. The union insists on stronger protections and protocols to combat harassment and create a safer working environment for its members. In an industry where power dynamics and abuse have historically been prevalent, the SAG strike seeks to address these concerns head-on.

The WGA Strike

Similarly, the Writers Guild of America is in the midst of its own strike, with approximately 20,000 members advocating for their rights. One of the primary objectives of the WGA strike is to secure fair compensation for writers in the face of evolving industry landscapes. With the rise of streaming platforms and changes in content consumption, writers are seeking proper compensation for their work on streaming shows and movies.

The WGA strike also focuses on the practice of agencies packaging television shows. Packaging refers to the practice where agencies assemble a complete show and sell it to a network, collecting fees from the studios instead of taking a commission from the writer. The WGA argues that this system is detrimental to writers' earnings and inhibits their ability to negotiate fair deals. By challenging the packaging model, the WGA seeks to reshape industry practices in favor of writers' financial well-being.

Last year, IATSE - The international Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists, and Allied Crafts went on strike. These are the people who make sure the costumes, scenery, lighting, and even the safety of the crew on your favorite shows appear without a hitch. Together with SAG and WGA, these strikes are urgent reminders of an ever evolving world and its need to keep up with the times in a fair manner. 

Inspired by real life experiences within the entertainment industry, Blended Sense has always aimed to create professional and reliable working environments for Creative Pros since its inception. Our Co Founder experienced first hand the financial hardship a creative career has. Like most union members who are in the working class (not the top paid celebrities in leading roles on your favorite shows) she would pick up extra work just to pay the bills. Most union members barely make a living wage off pay and residual standards as the top executives line their pockets with streaming profits. In a world that demands more content, the executives of the top streaming and content companies have stripped the very people who make their platform work of their dignity long enough. It is time for credit to go where it is due.

What does this mean for you, the audience? 

While the SAG and WGA strikes primarily revolve around the rights and welfare of industry professionals, their implications extend to audiences as well. Do you want to see more diverse stories on your screens?  By supporting these strikes, audiences play a role in upholding ethical and fair practices within the entertainment industry. Through fair compensation, the industry can attract and retain talented actors and writers, ensuring a diverse range of stories and narratives.

Moreover, the strikes contribute to creating safer and more inclusive working environments. By addressing workplace harassment concerns, the unions aim to foster an industry culture that rejects abuse and exploitation. This, in turn, promotes a healthier creative environment and fosters the growth of talented individuals.

It has always been our goal at Blended Sense to participate in this evolution of a more just industry. Our zero tolerance harassment policies, our culture on set, and our technology aimed to promote better creative communication are among our many efforts to see the creative arts into a better future. 

It's important to understand that the implications of this strike mean no work or participation for any union and non union creative professionals on any project under AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) including commercials, promotions, and a long list of other kinds of work- including many independent studios.

Blended Sense stands in solidarity with all union and non union creatives, and will continue to provide as many equitable working opportunities that we can. Our content creation does not fall within the strike guidelines, and we are thankful to continue to work. Creative Pros want to work- its just that enough is enough and the time has come to stand together for a better future for all creative professionals. Its benefits not just the industry but art is life. And without art, life is a dull existence. Art pushes humanity forward, evolves our society, and promotes a healthy economy. It is vital. 

The current SAG and WGA strikes are pivotal moments in the entertainment industry's labor movement. As actors and writers come together to demand fair compensation, safer working conditions, and improved industry practices, their actions resonate beyond the confines of the industry itself. By supporting these strikes, audiences can actively participate in the fight for a more equitable and sustainable entertainment industry, ensuring a future where creative professionals receive the recognition and compensation they deserve.

Stay tuned for more information and guidance on how YOU can support Creative Pros and stand in solidarity with the strike and be on the right side of history!