Writers strike ends as new deal goes to ratification vote

The ratification vote will take place October 2-9. 

By John Hazelton 27 Sep 2023

Writers strike ends as new deal goes to ratification vote
Union rally. Credit: Jim Ruymen / UPI / Shutterstock

Writers Guild of America (WGA) leaders have voted to recommend the union’s tentative agreement with Hollywood companies and have ended the nearly five month-long writers strike. 

The WGA West board and WGA East council gave the film and TV contract agreement a unanimous recommendation on Tuesday (September 26) afternoon and said the strike would end as of 12.01am Pacific time on Wednesday. 

The move will allow writers to return to work immediately, while the WGA membership goes through the process of ratifying the tentative agreement, which was announced by the Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Sunday. But, said the Guild, it “does not affect the membership’s right to make a final determination on contract approval.” 

The ratification vote will take place October 2-9. 

WGA officials said the tentatively agreed contract, which runs until May 1, 2026, was “won with the power of member solidarity and our union siblings over a 148-day strike” and “incorporates meaningful gains and protections for writers in every segment of the membership.” 

The agreement has an estimated value of $233m a year, said the WGA, less than the $429m value put on Guild proposals just before the strike began at the start of May, but nearly three times the $86m the Guild says was the value of the AMPTP’s offer at that time. 

Details of the agreement were revealed in links to a Memorandum of Agreement and summary sent to WGA members (see below). The Guild also provided a chart comparing the terms of the agreement to those of both the Guild’s and the AMPTP’s pre-strike proposals. 

The agreement calls for a 5% increase in writers’ basic pay in the first year of the contract’s term, 4% in the second year and 3.5% in the third. The Guild had proposed increases of 6%, 5% and 5% and the AMPTP had offered 4%, 3% and 2%. 

In the contentious area of viewership-based streaming residuals, the agreement calls for a 50% bonus residual for high-budget SVoD series and films viewed by 20% of a streaming service’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of release. 

On data transparency, the Guild says companies will provide it (subject to a confidentiality agreement) with figures for the total number of hours a title was streamed both domestically and internationally. 

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) was another contentious issue in negotiations and the Guild says that under the agreement AI-generated writing “is not considered literary material, source material or assigned material.” Writers will be able to use AI when they are writing, if companies consent, and companies will need to tell writers if any material given to them has been generated by AI. 

On staffing levels for TV series writers’ rooms, the agreement stipulates three writers for series of up to six episodes, rising to six writers for series of more than 13 episodes. The Guild had proposed levels of one writer per episode up to six episodes and then an additional writer for each two additional episodes.

While the writers stoppage appears to be ending, of course, the SAG-AFTRA film and TV strike continues. On Tuesday, a report that a resumption of talks between the actors union and the AMPTP might be imminent drew a response from SAG-AFTRA denying that any talks are currently set.  

The full message sent to WGA members on Tuesday appears below:

Dear Members,

As we reported on Sunday, the WGA reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new three-year Minimum Basic Agreement. Today, your Negotiating Committee, the WGAW Board and WGAE Council all voted unanimously to recommend the agreement. It will now go to both Guilds’ memberships for a ratification vote. Eligible voters will receive ballot and materials for the vote which will take place from October 2nd to October 9th. 

The WGAW Board and WGAE Council also voted unanimously to lift the restraining order and end the strike as of 12:01 am PT/3:01 am ET on Wednesday, September 27th. This allows writers to return to work during the ratification process, but does not affect the membership’s right to make a final determination on contract approval. 

Now that we have finalized the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), we can share details of this exceptional deal, with gains and protections for members in every sector of the business: 

MBA 2023 Contract Materials:

Contract Informational Member Meetings

We are convening meetings this week so current members can hear from the Negotiating Committee, Board and Council, and have the opportunity to ask questions about the agreement before the ratification vote.

  • NYC: Wed. September 27th, 7:00 pm ET at the Manhattan Center. Doors open with snacks and refreshments 6:00 pm. RSVP
  • Los Angeles: Wed. September 27th, 7:00 pm PT at the Hollywood Palladium. Doors open with snacks and refreshments 6:00 pm. RSVP
  • Zoom meeting: Thurs. September 28th, 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET RSVP
  • Zoom meeting: Fri. September 29th, 11:00 am PT/2:00 pm ET RSVP

Please try to be with us in-person on Wednesday either in NYC or LA. We did this together and it would be good to gather again to honor both our strike and what we’ve accomplished. We look forward to discussing the deal with you.

In solidarity,

WGA Negotiating Committee

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