John Oliver returns to his HBO show, urging more workers to unionize

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New York

Comedian John Oliver returned to his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” on Sunday, becoming the latest late night host to air a new program following the end of the writers’ strike.

“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,” Oliver joked following a 15-minute recap of everything his show missed since going off air in April. (Oliver’s show airs on HBO, which like CNN, is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.)

“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.”

Oliver said that the strike happened for “good reasons” and said the writers “thankfully won” after being “severely squeezed in recent years” referencing reports that some writers don’t make enough for health insurance.

“So 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 that he hopes the success of the writers strike encourages others, including auto workers and Starbucks employees, to “find power in each other.” Oliver said that actors, who are also currently on strike, are “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 pie.”

“For the actors guild, in particular, they can not come back to work soon enough, especially as we’ve all now seen what happens when non-professionals are trusted with the written word,” he said.

Last week, the Writers Guild of America unanimously voted to authorize its members to return to work following a 148-day strike with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that paralyzed the industry and halted production of several shows, including Oliver’s. Bill Maher returned to his show last Friday and the network hosts, such as Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, will air new programs Monday.

The contract, which will expire in May 2026, includes pay increases, better benefits, protections against the studios’ use of artificial intelligence, guarantees for streaming compensation, longer-duration employment terms and other perks.

Now the focus turns to negotiations between SAG-AFTRA, the union representing about 160,000 actors, and the AMPTP. The two sides are expected to begin negotiating again Monday and hopefully get closer to ending their strike, which has been happening since mid-July.


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