A historic Hollywood labor battle, known as the writers’ strike, is finally coming to an end after 148 days of protest. This strike is now the second longest in the history of the Writers Guild of America (WGA). As of 12:01 am PT on Wednesday, the strike will officially end, allowing around 11,500 members of the guild to return to work. Activities that were prohibited during the strike, such as pitching, selling scripts, attending meetings, and responding to notes, will now be allowed. Additionally, writers’ rooms will reconvene.
The WGA negotiating committee has clarified that this decision allows writers to resume work during the ratification process of the new contract, but it does not affect their right to make a final determination on contract approval. The WGA West Board and WGA East Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to lift the “restraining order” placed during the strike.
However, the end of the strike does not automatically guarantee the acceptance of the tentative agreement reached between the union and studios and streamers on Sunday night. The union members will have to vote to ratify the contract, and this referendum will take place between October 2 and October 9. Union leaders have also called for members to attend informational meetings in New York, Los Angeles, and on Zoom. During these meetings, leaders will present the new deal and try to convince members that the strike was necessary to secure favorable conditions from major industry employers.
The tentative agreement on a new three-year contract was finally announced on Sunday night by the studios, who are represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The negotiations progressed after a month of deadlock, with progress accelerating on September 20 when major industry leaders, including Disney’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, attended a bargaining session at the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks headquarters. Some important issues, such as minimum staffing in television writers’ rooms and rewards for writers in successful streaming projects, were addressed during these talks. However, regulations on artificial intelligence remained a sticking point until a compromise was reached on Sunday night. In their communication to members, the WGA praised the resulting agreement as “exceptional.”
The WGA West Board and the WGA East Council approved the deal on Tuesday, which allowed for the lifting of the restraining order against AMPTP member companies.
While the writers’ strike comes to a close, another Hollywood union, SAG-AFTRA, is still on strike. So far, neither this union nor the AMPTP has announced any new bargaining dates. Deadlock remains on several issues, including general wage increases, sharing platform subscriber revenue with union members for streaming projects’ success, and regulations surrounding artificial intelligence. Productions cannot resume in a meaningful way without principal performers.
In conclusion, the end of the writers’ strike marks a significant moment in Hollywood labor history. The battle to secure favorable conditions for writers is not over yet, as the tentative agreement still needs to be ratified. The members of the WGA will cast their votes in the coming days. Only time will tell if the strike was successful in achieving the desired outcome for writers in the entertainment industry.