Illustration/Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
A historic labor battle in Hollywood will soon end.
The 148-day writers’ strike, the second-longest in the history of the Writers Guild of America, will end at 12:01 a.m. PT on Wednesday thanks to a vote by union leadership that officially allowed about 11,500 members to return to work. Tasks that had been prohibited for months under strike rules — promoting, selling scripts, holding meetings, responding to feedback — will then be sanctioned, while writers’ rooms can get back to work.
“This allows writers to return to work during the certification process, but does not affect the members’ right to make a final decision on contract approval,” the WGA negotiating committee said after the WGA West Council and WGA East Council voted unanimously to lift the “restraining order.” ” Tuesday.
As negotiators note, the end of the strike does not mean that the tentative agreement the union reached with the studios and streamers Sunday night is a foregone conclusion: Union members still need to vote to ratify the contract, a referendum that will be approved by union leadership. It will be announced on Tuesday between October 2nd and October 9th. Members will also be asked to attend informational meetings about the new deal to be held in New York, Los Angeles and on Zoom in the coming days. There, leaders will no doubt look to sell members on the deal and argue that the union’s cessation of onerous work has given it the leverage needed to wrest those terms from the industry’s major employers.
The studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and the union finally announced a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract Sunday night after a full weekend of working on the deal. After about a month of stalled talks, progress accelerated starting on September 20, when the two sides returned to the negotiating table at AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks headquarters with top industry leaders (Disney’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, and Warner Bros.). Discovery’s David Zaslav and Donna Langley from NBCUniversal). With senior leaders in the room, studios have made changes to their stance on issues like minimum staffing in TV writers’ rooms and rewarding writers for the success of projects on streaming. Regulations surrounding artificial intelligence have proven to be a perennial point of contention, but the two sides eventually reached a compromise by Sunday night. In its letter to members about the agreement on Sunday, the WGA called the resulting agreement “extraordinary.”
On Tuesday, the WGA West Board and WGA East Council approved the deal, which initiated voting to end the restraining order against AMPTP member companies.
This news ends half of the entertainment industry’s historic labor standoff, a double strike not seen in Hollywood in more than 60 years. SAG-AFTRA remains on strike, and neither that union nor AMPTP has announced any new dates for bargaining between the parties yet. On Tuesday evening, In a post on InstagramSAG-AFTRA leadership sought to dispel speculation about meeting dates with studios and streamers. “At this time, we do not have confirmed dates for the AMPTP meetup. When the dates are confirmed, we will let you know. Unless you hear it from us, they are rumors,” the post said.
SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP remain deadlocked over the issues of general pay raises, a proposal to give union members a portion of the platform’s subscriber revenues when their broadcast projects are successful and regulations related to artificial intelligence, among other issues. Even with the writers back at work, production cannot resume in any meaningful way without key artists.
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