The writers strike is officially over today (Sept. 27), as the eastern and western branches of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted to accept the tentative contract with the studios. Scribes closed their laptops and joined the picket line on May 2, making this the second-longest strike of its kind. But for bingers and moviegoers, and even those who casually watch television or films, the show is not quite ready to go on. The writers may be back on board, but the actors are still on strike, with no talks scheduled for the foreseeable future.
The Strike Brings Changes
Both writers and actors went on strike for better pay, benefits, and control and transparency over the use of artificial intelligence, among other things. For five months, Hollywood has been without its writers, forcing shows to stop production and air reruns. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the WGA were stalled in negotiations, with the AMPTP offering $86 million in changes. However, the tentative contract agreed upon, and that writers must officially ratify in early October, increased to $233 million, which many say is a huge win.
The new contract, valid from Sept. 25, 2023, through May 1, 2026, includes a 5% minimum pay increase with more bumps in 2024 and 2025. It also includes “increased foreign streaming residuals” and a “viewership-based streaming bonus” according to the agreement published by the WGA.
“Each writer on a writing team employed for a script will receive pension and health contributions up to the relevant cap,” the contract says. “In addition, when a writing team is employed on a series, the contribution for each writer on the team will be made on the full weekly minimum instead of one-half of the weekly minimum.”
On the contentious point of AI, the contract is not so rigid, allowing room for negotiations at the end of the three-year term. It does, however, regulate the use of artificial intelligence but allows some flexibility to members. A writer “can elect to use AI when performing writing services,” the contract states, but also specifies that “AI is not a writer.”
The strike officially ended at 12:01 a.m. PT, which, as the WGA negotiating committee said, “allows writers to work during the ratification process, but does not affect the membership’s right to make a final determination on contract approval.”
However, after five months off, there’s a lot of work to do. Plus, the SAG-AFTRA strike is still going on, and writers have been encouraged to join the actors in their protests, just as Hollywood elites stood behind their creators. SAG-AFTRA comprises the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and they have yet to come to an agreement. They have been on the picket lines since July 13.
In a July press conference, Fran Drescher (The Nanny), the SAG-AFTRA president who heads the union, said, “We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way that the people we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things.”
The writers strike may be over, but don’t get your hopes up for your favorite shows or anticipated movies to be showing up soon. There’s still a lot of backlog to catch up on. Besides, the scribes may produce the scripts but, without the actors, there’s still no show.