What better news could there be to start the week? The WGA and major studios have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that promises to end the 146-day strike that has taken a heavy toll on the film and television industry in Chicago and across the country.
Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) crossed the goalline Sunday after five consecutive days of negotiations. According to Variety, Day 4 on Saturday mostly involved lawyers for the guild and AMPTP hashing out the fine print of language around complicated and groundbreaking additions to the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement. The specific language around the use of generative AI in content production was one of the last items that the sides worked on before closing the pact.
The final step is for WGA members to vote to approve the agreement. After nearly five months on strike – the work stoppage began May 2 – it’s highly likely to be approved by members, especially with the enthusiastic endorsement of WGA leaders.
Speaking of that enthusiastic endorsement, the WGA Negotiating Committee issued a statement to members confirming that the tentative pact had been clinched.
Here is the full text:
We have reached a tentative agreement on a new 2023 MBA, which is to say an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to drafting final contract language.
What we have won in this contract – most particularly, everything we have gained since May 2nd – is due to the willingness of this membership to exercise its power, to demonstrate its solidarity, to walk side-by-side, to endure the pain and uncertainty of the past 146 days. It is the leverage generated by your strike, in concert with the extraordinary support of our union siblings, that finally brought the companies back to the table to make a deal.
We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.
What remains now is for our staff to make sure everything we have agreed to is codified in final contract language. And though we are eager to share the details of what has been achieved with you, we cannot do that until the last “i” is dotted. To do so would complicate our ability to finish the job. So, as you have been patient with us before, we ask you to be patient again – one last time.
Once the Memorandum of Agreement with the AMPTP is complete, the Negotiating Committee will vote on whether to recommend the agreement and send it on to the WGAW Board and WGAE Council for approval. The Board and Council will then vote on whether to authorize a contract ratification vote by the membership.
If that authorization is approved, the Board and Council would also vote on whether to lift the restraining order and end the strike at a certain date and time (to be determined) pending ratification. This would allow writers to return to work during the ratification vote, but would not affect the membership’s right to make a final determination on contract approval.
Immediately after those leadership votes, which are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday if the language is settled, we will provide a comprehensive summary of the deal points and the Memorandum of Agreement. We will also convene meetings where members will have the opportunity to learn more about and assess the deal before voting on ratification.
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.
Finally, we appreciated your patience as you waited for news from us — and had to fend off rumors — during the last few days of the negotiation. Please wait for further information from the Guild. We will have more to share with you in the coming days, as we finalize the contract language and go through our unions’ processes.
As always, thank you for your support. You will hear from us again very soon.”
And now… the SAG-AFTRA Negotiations
Now that a deal with the WGA is in hand, AMPTP negotiators will turn their attention to SAG-AFTRA. It’s important to note that production and promotion cannot fully restart until SAG-AFTRA members vote to ratify a new agreement.
SAG-AFTRA, which has also been on strike since July 14, congratulated the WGA on their perseverance in their negotiations with AMPTP.
“SAG-AFTRA congratulates the WGA on reaching a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after 146 days of incredible strength, resiliency, and solidarity on the picket lines. While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members,” the statement said. “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.”
Check back here at SCREEN for the latest news as WGA and SAG-AFTRA forge ahead. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.