The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has voted to end its 148-day strike today. The industrial action will conclude at midnight tonight (Los Angeles time) after the WGA reached an agreement with major Hollywood studios.
The 11,500 writers covered by the union will now resume work on Wednesday, 27 September.
However, it’s still uncertain when the actors’ strike will end.
The WGA strike
On 2 May, the WGA voted to enter a rare strike following unsuccessful contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
The AMPTP represents major film and television studios, including Amazon, Apple, NBC, Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Warner Brothers.
Writers argued their pay had stagnated in the face of shorter seasons and smaller ‘residual’ payments, despite a growing demand for new content. Residuals are additional payments given to writers and actors whenever episodes they contributed to were rerun or released on DVD.
They said streaming services upended this arrangement.
The WGA was also concerned about the risks posed by artificial intelligence.
The WGA has now released the conditions they have agreed to.
Workers will receive annual minimum pay increases of 5%, 4%, and 3.5% over the course of a three-year contract.
A minimum of three writer-producers must be employed in writers’ rooms and must be guaranteed at least 10 consecutive weeks of employment.
Writers will no longer split employee benefits with their colleagues, receiving an individual contribution of at least 12% to their health funds from their employer.
The AMPTP (Hollywood studios) also agreed that artificial intelligence cannot produce or edit written material.
Writers can voluntarily choose to use AI software, but studios cannot mandate its use.
Using writers’ material to train AI is also prohibited under the agreement.
The agreement introduces “viewership-based residuals” to award bonuses to the workers behind content that performs well with U.S. subscribers.
Members of the WGA involved in projects that reach a certain viewership threshold in their first 90 days of release will receive extra compensation (valued at 50% of their fixed residual rate).
Residual payments for content viewed by a streamer’s overseas subscribers will also increase by 76%.
The minimum initial compensation given to writers who develop a script for a high-budget streaming movie has also increased by 18%, plus a 26% increase in the residual base.
As for streaming transparency, the AMPTP agreed to share international and domestic streaming numbers with the guild, subject to a confidentiality agreement — meaning their data will not be available for public consumption.
WGA leadership unanimously accepted the agreement, bringing the strike to an end.
This allows writers to resume work. The agreement now needs approval from members of the WGA.
Members vote on the agreement next week.