The Writers Guild of America has reached a tentative agreement under a new contract with top entertainment companies, ending one of Hollywood’s longest labor disputes and moving the industry closer to a restart.
The agreement may bring some relief to the industry, which has been thrown into turmoil due to the bilateral strike. But there’s still a long way to go before Hollywood returns to normal. Both the guild board and its members must vote on the agreement. And due to separate strikes by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, work on television programs and films cannot continue.
The writers’ guild has managed to win concessions from studios on many of its demands, including increases in royalty payments for streaming content and guarantees that AI will not encroach on writers’ credits and compensation. After 146 days of strike, an agreement was reached after five consecutive days of negotiations.
The use of artificial intelligence, which was one of the main reasons the writers called for a strike, was the final sticking point. Over the weekend, the studios proposed adding several paragraphs to the new contract addressing the guild’s concerns about artificial intelligence and old scripts the studios own. On the last night of the talks, the two sides spent several hours negotiating the language.
Both parties’ enthusiasm for the contract was evident in how they talked, or did not talk, about it. The guild’s negotiating committee heralded it as a success and sent an email to its 11,000 members, saying the deal was “outstanding – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.” Notably, the studios have said nothing on the matter.
The writers’ guild’s various leadership boards will vote on Tuesday on whether to approve the contract. If approved, some 11,000 writers who are members of the guild will vote to approve the contract.
After the agreement was reached, the guild’s leaders told members that all picketing was now suspended, but warned them not to return to work until the agreement was formalized.
Writers can get back to work relatively quickly. If union leadership approves the agreement, they will vote on whether to end the strike; Meanwhile, floor voting is still ongoing. “This will allow writers to return to work during the approval vote, but will not affect members’ right to make the final decision on contract approval,” writers guild leaders said.
Most television shows and movies will not be able to continue work due to actors still on strike. But the writers’ rooms of late-night and daytime talk shows could soon be up and running again, potentially bringing relief to one corner of an industry thrown into turmoil.
The writers’ agreement will not directly affect the strike by SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents more than 150,000 actors. Television and film actors have been on separate strikes since July 14 with demands that exceed those of the writers’ union. Studios sought one of the most prominent demands by allocating 2% of total revenue from broadcast programs to non-starters. There are currently no meetings planned between the two sides.
But the agreement with the authors could provide a blueprint for negotiations on some of the concerns shared by the actors. For example, both wanted aggressive guardrails around the use of AI; Actors worried that AI could encroach on their livelihoods and be used to create digital copies of their counterparts without payment or approval.
The writers’ guild encouraged its members to join players on the picket line when they resume on Tuesday.
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