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California’s Economy Suffering from Hollywood Strikes

Los Angeles — Hollywood writers met with studio executives on Friday for the first time since the Writer’s Guild of America went on strike just over three months ago.

The Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike since May, joined by the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) in mid-July. This strike has halted almost all scripted Hollywood production, marking the first time since 1960 that both guilds have been on strike simultaneously. The impact on the economy has been particularly significant in California, where film and television production supports over 700,000 jobs and contributes nearly $70 billion in wages annually, according to the California Film Commission.

“We are truly fighting for the rights of the people who work and live in the city,” said Burbank Mayor Konstantine Anthony. “That’s who I represent. I wasn’t elected by studios.”

Mayor Anthony is also an actor and represents Burbank, which is home to several studios, including Disney and Warner Bros.

“If people aren’t working, if they’re on strike, they aren’t spending money at local businesses,” Anthony explained. “All of those secondary industries are greatly affected by the loss of income.”

One of the affected businesses is Alex Uceda’s catering company, which caters to Hollywood production crews.

“At the end of last year, we had around 10 to 11 jobs every day,” Uceda shared. “Now, it’s dropped to maybe one or two jobs.”

Uceda estimates that he has lost around 70% of his business since the WGA strike began, leading to the layoff of almost half of his employees. In support of SAG-AFTRA’s financial assistance program, several big stars, including Oprah, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, have made donations of $1 million or more.

“I beg all the people from the studio, please, please make it happen, you know, for the good of everyone,” Uceda pleaded.

Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are negotiating separately with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the group representing major Hollywood studios. One of the key issues being contested by both groups is streaming services’ residuals and the use of artificial intelligence.

Earlier this week, the WGA informed its members that Carol Lombardini, the president of AMPTP, had requested a meeting to discuss negotiations. Members have expressed hopefulness about the meeting.

Paramount Pictures, one of the studios involved in the negotiations, and CBS News are both part of Paramount Global. Although some CBS News staff are SAG-AFTRA or Writers Guild members, their contracts are not affected by the strikes.

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