After a long and bitter dispute, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have finally reached a tentative agreement that could end the longest strike in Hollywood history. The WGA announced on Sunday night that they had agreed on all the major deal points with the AMPTP, subject to finalizing the contract language and ratifying the agreement by the union members. The strike, which began in May 2023, lasted for 146 days and affected hundreds of shows and movies across the industry.
What were the writers fighting for?
The main issues that sparked the strike were the changes in the media landscape brought by the rise of streaming platforms and the emergence of artificial intelligence. The writers demanded higher minimum wages, better residuals, improved working conditions, more diversity and inclusion, and protection from the potential use of AI to replace or undermine their work. The writers argued that they deserved a fair share of the profits generated by the streaming giants, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+, which have been booming during the pandemic. They also wanted to ensure that their creative rights and intellectual property were respected and safeguarded from the possible exploitation of AI.
How did the strike affect the industry and the audience?
The strike had a huge impact on the entertainment industry and the audience, as it halted the production and release of many shows and movies. Some of the most popular and anticipated titles, such as Stranger Things, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Crown, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, were delayed or postponed due to the strike. Many other shows, such as The Drew Barrymore Show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and The Talk, went on hiatus or aired reruns. Late-night shows, such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, also stopped airing new episodes. The strike also affected the award season, as many films and shows were ineligible or unavailable for consideration.
The strike also had a significant economic and social cost, as it affected thousands of workers and businesses that depend on the industry, such as actors, directors, crew members, caterers, drivers, and hotel owners. According to a report by the Milken Institute, the strike cost the Los Angeles economy about $3.2 billion and resulted in the loss of about 37,000 jobs. The strike also deprived the audience of a vital source of entertainment and information, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic.
What are the terms of the tentative agreement?
The details of the tentative agreement have not been disclosed yet, but according to the WGA, it is an “exceptional” deal that offers “meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership”. The WGA also said that the deal addresses the key issues that the writers raised, such as increasing the minimum compensation, enhancing the residuals formula, improving the working conditions, advancing the diversity and inclusion initiatives, and establishing safeguards against the misuse of AI. The WGA also thanked the solidarity and support of the actors, who have been on strike since July under the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), and urged them to continue their fight until they achieve a fair deal as well.
What are the next steps to end the strike?
The tentative agreement is not final until it is approved by the WGA leadership and the union members. The WGA’s negotiating committee will vote on whether to recommend the agreement to the board of directors and the council of the guild, who will then decide whether to authorize a ratification vote by the membership. The WGA will also vote on whether to lift the strike order, which would allow the writers to return to work while the ratification process is underway. The WGA said that they will suspend the picketing immediately, but the writers will not resume their work until the strike order is lifted. The WGA is expected to vote on these matters on Tuesday, September 26. If the agreement is ratified by the membership, the strike will officially end and the new contract will take effect.