The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a tentative agreement to end a nearly 150-day-long writer’s strike on Sunday night, with writers expected to go back to work soon as a final ratification vote is set up.
The WGA strike, which started on May 2nd and lasted 146 days, had been at a standstill with the AMPTP for months. The WGA, as well as SAG-AFTRA in their own strike, have been pulling for better residual fees for streaming service programs, better overall pay, a minimum number of writers on writing staff to ensure continued employment, and strict regulation on the use of artificial intelligence.
Since May, both sides only formally met a few times, including last month when talks broke down because of neither side willing to move forward on the remaining issues. However, September brought new challenges to both sides, with studios reporting economic losses going into the billions and more and more WGA strikers facing financial hardships, with many beginning to be evicted. Talks began again last Wednesday, with both sides later releasing a joint press statement saying that much progress had been made.
However, talks on Thursday, while close, began to take on a more serious note. While many were hoping for a deal on Thursday, many insiders noted that if no agreement was reached soon, the strike would likely continue until the end of the year. Talks then dragged on into the weekend, with final points being hammered out, including much back and forth going on about the use of AI. Despite the final arguments over the final print, a deal between the sides was finally reached on Sunday.
A joint statement from both sides simply said, “The WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement.”
As of Monday morning, the final, tentative agreement is yet to be known publicly, because of WGA members still needing to vote on it. However, the WGA did say that the tentative deal is exceptional, with meaningful gains and protections for writers.” In a tweet, the WGA also added that more details would be coming soon as it is finalized.
“The WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement,” tweeted the WGA on Sunday. “This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who stood with us for over 146 days. More details coming after contract language is finalized.”
The WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement. This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who stood with us for over 146 days. More details coming after contract language is finalized. #WGAStrike pic.twitter.com/GBg2wZBwGB
— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) September 25, 2023
While many actors and Hollywood figures applauded the likely end of the strike, the biggest responses came from lawmakers. As the strike has caused billions in economic losses for the city of Los Angeles, California, and even the Country as a whole, lawmakers from all over expressed relief that the strike would be ending soon on Sunday and Monday.
“California’s entertainment industry would not be what it is today without our world class writers,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “For over 100 days, 11,000 writers went on strike over existential threats to their careers and livelihoods — expressing real concerns over the stress and anxiety workers are feeling. I am grateful that the two sides have come together to reach an agreement that benefits all parties involved, and can put a major piece of California’s economy back to work.”
President Joe Biden added on Monday, “I applaud the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for reaching a tentative agreement that will allow writers to return to the important work of telling the stories of our nation, our world – and of all of us.”
“This agreement, including assurances related to artificial intelligence, did not come easily. But its formation is a testament to the power of collective bargaining.”
Industry and labor experts, however, noted on Monday that while an agreement was in place, it has yet to be ratified. In addition, many productions will likely stay shut down at least in part because of the continuing Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike, ongoing since July.
“It is, in all likelihood, going to be passed,” said Theresa Stevenson, an arbitrator in Michigan who has helped settled union disputes and strikes in the past. “A union would never get a tentative agreement in place if they didn’t think their members would go for it. That being said, both the studios and the guild were at odds over some issues where neither side vowed not to give any leeway on anything, so it will be interesting to what compromise was taken. Were some issues sacrificed more for others, or did they go for a more temporary solution with the issue to be brought back in three years time? We’ll know soon.”
“Getting back to work will be a timeline within itself. The actors strike is still going on, so many productions will remain halted. The ones that will come back soon, like talk shows, could be back this week. It isn’t like a factory strike where everyone is back after everyone agrees to it. The writers will stop picketing for now, so there is at least that.”
“This really all boiled down to money. You know, you can make arguments with AI or writers room minimum writers, but just look how the statements mentioned economies and money. WGA members were drained of savings, with many struggling to continue on, and the studios couldn’t bear to see any more mounting losses. The deal saved face. At least no one had to step in as an arbitrator. That seems to happen more and more with strikes nowadays.”
A guild writer, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to the Globe on Monday just how dire it was for writers.
“Everyone is saying that we made it because of solidarity and that everyone was on board, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said the writer, who has spoken to the Globe before. “Everyone has been miserable and wanted this to end. People have been financially struggling. At least a few people from my circle lost apartments. One had to sell their car. If we don’t get certain things, people will go ballistic.”
“David Goodman and Chris Keyser, as well as everyone else on the negotiating committee. No one is saying this aloud, but a lot of us plain hate them at this point. A lot of us were only in the WGA as a necessity to work, and this just really ticked us off like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t know what they got us, and I am worried to see what exactly it will be. A lot of people are cheering, but a lot more are waiting cautiously. We know better.”
The ratification vote is due to come within the next ten days. Once voted on, the strike will likely be officially over. Following that, studios are expected to continue negotiations with SAG-AFTRA over their now 73-day-old strike.
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