John Oliver returned to his late night comedy series Last Week Tonight with a message for workers across the country.
Sunday's episode marked the first show back for Oliver since the beginning of the Hollywood writer strike in May, with the host noting that since then "we missed so much, that it would take a whole new version of Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ to cover it."
“I wish so much that I could have told you these jokes at the time, but I couldn’t because our writers — the people who wrote those jokes — were forced to strike for a fair contract for the last five months, and it was an immensely difficult time,” he said. “Not just for them, but for everyone else working on this show and many others who could no longer do their jobs.”
WGA strike ends & writers return to Work
The Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2, and have since received an offer from studios that met all of their terms. Some of the biggest areas of contention included regulating the use of artificial intelligence in writing, earning a living wage, requiring studios to have set writing staff, honoring strikes from other unions, and earning residuals from streaming services.
Oliver said that the strike happened for “good reasons” and that the writers “thankfully won” after being “severely squeezed in recent years."
“The writers’ guild went on strike and thankfully won, but it took a lot of sacrifices from a lot of people to achieve that, and while I am happy that they eventually got a deal, and I’m proud of what our union accomplished, I’m also furious that it took the studios 148 days to achieve a deal that they could have offered on day f–king one," he continued.
Oliver said that he hopes the success of the WGA will inspire workers across the country to unionize and collectively bargain with their bosses. More pointedly, he hopes the union's victory will give striking actors a bargaining tool as they negotiate with studios.
“Hopefully, this might encourage others, from auto workers to Starbucks baristas to health-care providers, whether they are in unions or would like to be, to find power in each other and within our industry,” he said. “I hope that SAG-AFTRA and IATSE, which represents crews, will be able to take what the writers achieved and leverage it to win fair contracts too, because the truth is it takes many people working really hard to make film and TV, all of whom deserve a piece of the piece.”
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