Hollywood can now heave a sigh of relief, as a hard-fought labour battle will soon go down in the history books. After coming to a tentative agreement a few days ago, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television (AMPTP) — represented by major studios like Disney, Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery and more — have agreed to end the writers’ strike.
The WGA reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP. Today, our Negotiating Committee, WGAW Board, and WGAE Council all voted unanimously to recommend the agreement. The strike ends at 12:01 am. Check out our deal at https://t.co/c0ULMXhPL7. #WGAStrong pic.twitter.com/7z8kw9xI1p— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) September 27, 2023
On the 148th day of the work stoppage, union leaders voted unanimously to lift the strike orders as of 12.01 am PT / 3 pm SGT on Wednesday, 27 September. This means writers can resume work before the ratification vote, which will be held from 2 to 9 October.
“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA’s negotiating committee wrote in an email sent to members.
The deal will last till May 2026 and offers a five percent minimum pay raise upon the ratification of the contract. Another four percent bump is planned for 2 May 2024, with an additional 3.5 percent increment following on 5 May. Apart from compensation gains, the 94-page contract (summarised in a post by WGA) also includes a new requirement for minimum staff levels in TV writers rooms and protections for the use of artificial intelligence in the writing process, such as:
- AI can’t write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not be considered source material under the MBA, meaning that AI-generated material can’t be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights.
- A writer can choose to use AI when performing writing services, if the company consents and provided that the writer follows applicable company policies, but the company can’t require the writer to use AI software (e.g., ChatGPT) when performing writing services.
- The Company must disclose to the writer if any materials given to the writer have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material.
- The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.
The news comes after months of tedious negotiation that started earlier this year on 2 May, and lays out a hopeful path for Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) to close its own deal with Hollywood studios.
Similar to writers, actors are looking to improve general wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits, as well as establish safeguarding measures against the use of AI. The union is currently 75 days into the strike, with both parties yet to announce any new bargaining dates.