Netflix Caves After Writer’s Union Opposes Executive Pay Bumps

Netflix Caves After Writer’s Union Opposes Executive Pay Bumps

As the Writers Guild of America continues to strike for fair wages and against the looming threat of AI, one of the largest streaming services — Netflix — might have just heard their battle cry against executives.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that Netflix shareholders have rejected the pay packages that were set to be awarded to executives at the company, including current co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters as well as former CEO Reed Hastings. It’s a rare move in which Netflix appears to have caved just a bit during the ongoing writers strike. Earlier this week, the WGA West president Meredith Stiehm — who is also a seasoned TV writer and producer — urged both Netflix and Comcast shareholders to reject pay bumps for executives, according to Deadline.

“Today shareholders voiced their disapproval of Netflix’s outlandish exec pay totalling over $US166 million for 2022,” the WGA wrote in a Twitter thread last night. “This excessive sum, paid to just a handful of execs, could pay for Netflix’s annual share of all of WGA’s proposed improvements for writers — twice over.”

Netflix did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment on how much Stiehm’s letter influenced the decision to nix pay bumps.

Stiehm sent the letter to Netflix shareholders ahead of yesterday’s annual stockholder meeting. Stiehm asked the letter recipients to vote against Netflix’s Proposal 3, which would award executives at the company a compensation package. Stiehm called approval of the package “inappropriate” amidst the backdrop of the ongoing writers strike, which has been raging for a month since tens of thousands of WGA members walked off their jobs on May 2.

“In the midst of a disruptive labour dispute, Netflix is asking shareholders to give retroactive advisory approval of the company’s 2022 reported executive compensation totaling over $US166 million,” Stiehm wrote. “By contrast, the proposed improvements the WGA currently has on the table would cost Netflix an estimated $US68 million per year.”

Since the writers strike began early last month, the WGA has made its voice loud and clear with the work stoppage freezing several in-production projects across Hollywood. Netflix’s decision to reject bumps to executive pay is a sign that the strike is hitting studios and corporations where it hurts — their wallets — and that the momentum of the strike is working.