Barack Obama: Studios “Wouldn’t Be Around If It Weren’t for Writers,” Says He’s “Hopeful” About Deal

Former President Barack Obama said he was “hopeful” that writers would get “a fair share of the fruits of their labor” as a result of the ongoing writers strike.

During a live-streamed interview with Ira Glass in Washington, D.C., to promote his Netflix docuseries, Working, Obama opened up the conversation by sharing his support for the writers on strike.

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“I know there are many studios and streamers who feel a little bit embattled and there’s been a little bit too much of a glut of product and they’re looking at their bottom line and their experiencing shareholder pressure,” Obama said, “but the fact is, is that they wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for writers creating the stories that matter. My hope is that as somebody who’s really supportive of the Writers Guild and as someone who just believes in storytelling and the craft of it, I’m hoping that they will be compensated and the importance of what they do will be reflected in whatever settlement’s arrived at.”

“I’m very supportive of the writers and the strike and I’m hopeful that they get a fair share of the fruits of their labor,” he continued.

The Writers Guild has been on strike since May 2 after negotiations with studios and streamers reached an impasse. The union has alleged that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and streamers, refused to agree to a guaranteed number of weeks of employment and minimum staff sizes for TV writers and essentially stonewalled proposals meant to regulate artificial intelligence in the writing process.

The Thursday conversation also came a week after Netflix released Working, the docuseries exploring modern work that was created as part of the streamer’s production deal with the Obamas’ Higher Ground. Though Obama did not directly address Netflix in his comments about the writers strike, the former president said the entertainment industry is “no exception” to the ongoing struggle for workers rights in the U.S.

“What we’ve seen throughout American history is that unions and worker organizations have had to make demands on their employers, those that are controlling whatever industry they’re in, to make sure they’re treated fairly and entertainment is no exception,” Obama said. “My hope would be that in a time of big technological change, where you’ve got big mega corporations that are doing really well, that they keep in mind the creative people who are actually making the product that consumers appreciate and that gets exported all around the world.”

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