The leaders of Hollywood’s writers union have declared their nearly five-month-old strike over after board members approved a contract agreement with studios.
The governing boards of the eastern and western branches of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) both voted to accept the deal, and afterward declared that the strike would be over and writers would be free to work starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
The writers still have to vote to ratify the contract themselves, but lifting the strike will allow them to work during that process, the Writers Guild told members in an email.
Hollywood actors remain on strike with no talks yet on the horizon, with writers now being encouraged to walk in solidarity with actors.
The WGA negotiating committee said: ‘The WGA reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP)P on a new three-year Minimum Basic Agreement.
Members of the Writers Guild of America picket outside Paramount Pictures on May 3
The writers still have to vote to ratify the contract themselves, but lifting the strike will allow them to work during that process
Actors Jack Black, left, and Bob Odenkirk join demonstrators outside the Paramount Pictures Studio in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, as the actors strike continues
The WGA negotiating committee said: ‘The WGA reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new three-year Minimum Basic Agreement.
‘On September 26th, the 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 be able to vote from October 2nd through October 9th, and will receive ballot and ratification materials when the vote opens.
‘The WGAW Board and WGAE Council also voted 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.’
The WGA’s deal with studios achieved compromises on minimum wage increases, bonus payments for writers participating in hit shows, and guarantees that scripts using AI will not undercut human writers and their paychecks.
Thousands of film and television scribes downed their pens in early May over demands including better pay, greater rewards for creating hit shows, and protection from artificial intelligence.
They have manned picket lines for months outside offices including Netflix and Disney, and were joined by striking actors in mid-July, leaving normally busy Hollywood lots all but vacant in a dramatic show of force.
Five days of intensive talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, culminated Sunday.
The writers still have to vote to ratify the contract themselves , but lifting the strike will allow them to work during that process
Meredith Stiehm, president of the Writers Guild of America West, pickets outside Paramount Pictures studio, Monday, May 8, 2023, in Los Angeles.
Disney CEO Bob Iger, left, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav make up a large part of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers
With hundreds of film and television shoots backed up, it could still then take months for Hollywood to clear the logistical logjam and get fully back to work.
Actors were on the picket lines Tuesday outside Netflix, being joined by members of the WGA who were there in support.
‘Our strike is over. But the battle goes on until the actors get their deal,’ said WGA member Vinnie Wilhelm.
‘We would not have gotten the deal that we have gotten if it weren’t for the support of the actors.’
The two sides had been divided on issues of pay, the size of writing staffs on shows and the use of artificial intelligence in how scripts are created.
The strike began in early May, as writers expressed concern over wages, staffing and other issues
Writers were advised not to return to work until explicitly told to do so by the Guild
The agreement, still subject to the approval of union members, was reached Sunday night after five days of lengthy negotiations.
Three leaders have come to embody the AMPTP, Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive David Zaslav and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos.
The strike had lasted for 148-days, becoming the second longest WGA walkout in history.
Union members will now need to vote to ratify the new contract, with a referendum set to take place between October 2 and October 9.
Late night talk shows, which had been among the first to go dark when writers downed tools on May 2 are likely to be the first to resume.
There are currently no talks happening between the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, and the studios.
This means tens of thousands of actors are still on strike – meaning shows without actors may be one step closer to coming on air, including chat shows.
The actors union has, on the whole, taken a less ardent approach than the WGA has.