NY Legislators Hint Tax Incentives May Depend On Deal To End WGA Strike – Deadline

More than 50 Democratic members of the New York state legislature, reminding the AMPTP that companies it represents are the beneficiaries of “hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits” every year, are calling on the studios to return to the bargaining table with the Writers Guild and make a deal to end the month-long strike.

And by “relatedly” tying the tax credits to “good faith” bargaining, as they wrote in one of the letters delivered this morning to AMPTP President Carol Lombardini, the lawmakers appear to be implying that they’ll take the outcome of the strike into consideration when weighing future funding of the incentives program.  

One letter sent to Lombardini was signed by 34 members of the state Assembly, and another similar missive was signed by 20 state senators.  The guild described the letters as “demanding the Studio association immediately return to the bargaining table with the WGA.”

See the letter from State Sen. Jessica Ramos here and the missive sent by State Rep. Latoya Joyner here.

The letters echo many of the talking points the WGA has made since the strike began May 2.

“Despite many weeks at the bargaining table, the AMPTP rejected a range of Writers Guild proposals that are essential to the well-being of writers in the episodic television, comedy-variety, and feature film areas,” the senators said in their letter. “It is unacceptable for writers to have their earnings decline, in some instances as much as 23%, inflation-adjusted, in the last ten years while studio, network, and streaming companies’ profits soar.

“Relatedly the State Legislature recently joined in a historic vote to expand New York’s Empire State Film Production Tax Credit in the FY 2024 Budget. This film and television production incentive provides hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits yearly to companies represented by the AMPTP.

“It is disturbing to note that the same companies that will benefit enormously from this expanded tax credit have yet to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guilds of America East and West, whose members are on strike nationwide. Thousands of Writers Guild members live and work in New York City, the most expensive city in the country and others live in communities across the state, and their ability to maintain careers in the entertainment industry is of profound importance to us.

“The industry continues to experience significant upheaval, and writers work harder for less money, shorter periods, and fewer opportunities to advance. The writers are asking for nothing more than the ability to build and sustain careers in the entertainment industry.

“We find it distasteful that companies insist on hiring writers on a day-to-day basis in a race to the bottom to make employment in this area akin to the gig industry rather than treating members of the Writers Guild of America as the professionals they are.

“Therefore, we call on the AMPTP and its affiliated companies to bargain in good faith and listen to what their writers tell them about the difficulties in maintaining careers as streaming continues transforming the industry.”

Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, led the effort to gain their colleagues’ support for the letter.  

“The writers on strike aren’t just standing up for dignified wages. This contract fight gets to the heart of existential issues facing the future of work,” Ramos said. “My colleagues and I are proud to stand with the Writers Guild in their demands for good faith bargaining.” 

Joyner said that “The members of the Writers Guild are at the heart of New York’s creative community and they bring an incredible energy and vitality that makes our state a truly dynamic and exciting place to live. I am proud to have so many of my colleagues join me in urging the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to reach a contract with the Writers Guild that truly recognizes the talent of their members and treats them fairly and with respect.”

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