The Writers Guild of America has successfully negotiated a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, likely signaling the end of the strike that began last May.
According to the union, final contract language still has to be drafted. A Negotiating Committee will vote on whether or not to recommend the final agreement and send it onto the union's board and council for approval. Then the union's membership (numbering around 11,000) has to vote to approve the new contract. The board and council could vote to officially lift the strike even before the union's membership fully ratifies the agreement, though a failed ratification vote would still bring the strike back in this scenario. Further news from these decisions is expected September 26.
Though details of the agreement have not yet been released, The New York Times is reporting that it includes increased royalty payments for streaming content and guarantees against the use of artificial intelligence, which were the two main sticking points of the dispute.
"We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional—with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership," said an email sent by WGA Negotiating Committee to its membership. "To be clear, no one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the Guild. We are still on strike until then. But we are, as of today, suspending WGA picketing. Instead, if you are able, we encourage you to join the SAG-AFTRA picket lines this week."
The tentative agreement does not affect the SAG-AFTRA strike, which continues. An end to the WGA strike would likely clear a path for production restarts on projects not using actors, such as late night and daytime talk shows. But barring an agreement on SAG-AFTRA's contract, Hollywood will remain at somewhat of a standstill despite a prospective end to the WGA strike. The acting union's issues largely mirror those of the WGA's, with the primary grievances being royalties from streaming content and the potential use of A.I.
In a statement, SAG-AFTRA congratulated the WGA on the tentative agreement, while adding, "Since the day the WGA strike began, SAG-AFTRA members have stood alongside the writers on the picket lines. We remain on strike in our TV/Theatrical contract 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."
WGA's strike has been long, having started May 2. AMPTP representatives reportedly were, with few exceptions, unwilling to resume negotiations in earnest until last week. The situation has been mostly the same with SAG-AFTRA's strike, which began in July. Whether this sudden movement regarding WGA's contract will signal a similar willingness to return to negotiations with SAG-AFTRA remains to be seen.
Both strikes, which have brought almost all TV and film production to a halt, have had profound impacts on the entire entertainment industry. Most notable to theatre fans, the 2023 Tony Awards were nearly postponed due to WGA's strike, though the ceremony ultimately was able to go forward by being completely unscripted. Though WGA does not represent Broadway writers, it does represent the writers who work on the Tony Awards ceremonies due to it being broadcasted on CBS. That writing team prepares everything from comedy bits for the host to the banter that presenters read.