Hollywood writers are getting ready to vote on a tentative agreement reached by the Writers Guild of America and the major studios last weekend. After months of acrimony, false starts and weeks of painful silence negotiations finally got serious and moved at lightning speed.
The talks restarted on Wednesday, September 20. They went on every day until a deal was hammered out on Sunday, September 24. That evening, the WGA negotiating committee put out a statement calling the tentative agreement “… exceptional—with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.” As a demonstration of its enthusiasm, the WGA suspended picketing the next day.
It took a lot of resolve, sacrifice, and picketing by the WGA. That union has around 11,500 members. The WGA writers “hit the bricks” on May 2 after their contract expired and negotiations fell apart. Week after week, thousands of striking writers and their supporters picketed Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, Sony — the main players in the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
Labor Discontent Spreads
Then on July 14, another blow to the entertainment industry and the local economy. The Screen Actors Guild went out on strike against the alliance and other Hollywood majors. The guild represents nearly 160,000 members. Also, SAG-AFTRA actors joined the writers on the picket lines during many long hot summer days of discontent and uncertainty.
The writers’ strike officially ended at 12:01 am, Wednesday, September 27, allowing members to return to work during the ratification period. The work stoppage went on for 148 days. It came very close to becoming the WGA’s longest walkout ever. However, the 1988 strike which lasted 153 days, still holds the record.
Writers’ New Deal
The WGA achieved some substantial gains during negotiations. Some of the main deal points cover better pay, increased residuals from streamers, and controls on AI (artificial intelligence). More details in a summary of the new contract, which is up on the WGA West website. The contract runs from September 25, 2023 through May 1, 2026.
WGA leadership unanimously recommended the contract. However, the WGA rank and file will get the final say. They will be voting on the new contract from October 2 through October 9.
Actors’ Talks to Start Up Again
Apparently the writers’ deal kick started the actors’ negotiations. Contract talks between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP are set to get underway on Monday, October 2.