Hollywood actors and writers along with their supporters walk the picket line outside of Disney studios in Burbank, Calif., on July 18, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Hollywood writers have reached a tentative deal with major studios and streaming services, possibly ending a nearly five-month strike and a near-total shutdown of television and movie production.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) told
the union’s 11,000 writers on Sept. 24 that negotiators had reached an agreement on a new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) after returning to the bargaining table on Sept. 20.
“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional—with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA negotiating team said in an online statement to members.
The deal must be approved by union members in a vote in order to be ratified. WGA staff is reviewing the agreement and hasn’t yet shared it with members, according to the union.
Once the agreement is complete, the negotiating committee will vote on whether to recommend it and send it to the union’s West Coast board and East Coast council, which must vote to authorize a vote by membership, according to the WGA. The leadership vote is scheduled for Sept. 26.
As part of the writers’ union demands, the WGA requested higher pay that accounted for inflation, revenue sharing on top of residuals, protections from artificial intelligence technology, and updates to pension and health contributions, among other items.
If the vote authorization is approved, the WGA will decide whether to lift a restraining order and end the strike on a certain date and time, pending ratification of the contract.
Writers were instructed to not return to work until they’re authorized to do so by the guild.
Major studios and streaming services represented by the AMPTP—including Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney, Netflix, and others—released a single-sentence statement on Sept. 24, announcing the agreement. “The WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement,” the alliance stated.
The writers’ union had suspended picketing as of Sept. 25, but writers were encouraged to join that of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union representing more than 160,000 actors who have remained on strike without a deal since July 14.
If approved, the new contract agreement for writers would end the first double strike since 1960.
Writers on strike march with signs on the picket line on day four of the Writers Guild of America strike in front of Netflix in Hollywood, Calif., on May 5, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
SAG-AFTRA’s leadership congratulated the writers on reaching a possible deal.
“While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement posted on its website. “Since the day the WGA strike began, SAG-AFTRA members have stood alongside the writers on the picket lines. We remain on strike. ... and continue to urge the studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand.”
If the new contract is ultimately approved, the 146-day writers’ strike will have ended just days before it would have become the longest strike in the union’s history; its strike in 1988 lasted for 154 days. The WGA’s last strike in 2007 and 2008 stopped work for 100 days.
Movie and entertainment companies realized small gains following the Sept. 24 announcement, with shares in Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount, Disney, and Netflix rising by about 2 percent or less on Sept. 25, according to The Associated Press.
As a result of the resolution, nightly comedy shows, such as “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” and other productions could return within days. However, the scripted television programs are likely to take a while to resume.