WGA strike: what’s the agreement between writers and Hollywood and when will filming resume?
After 146 days of striking, previously unhappy writers have agreed a tentative deal with major film and TV studios.
The Writers Guild of America announced on Sunday that a tentative agreement had been reached between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and striking writers after five intense days of negotiations. Since the strike began on 2 May, the majority of Hollywood production has been at a standstill.
Why did writers decide to go on strike?
The strike came about after a significant number of the WGA’s 11,000 writers revealed they could no longer afford to live under current economic conditions, with even successful and award-winning writers struggling to make a living.
Revenue from traditional linear television is on the decline, while streaming services are losing money, despite being on the rise. Seasons of streaming shows also tend to be shorter and the knock-on effect has seen writers being hit in the pocket, with fewer job opportunities and lower pay.
One of the agreement’s main sticking points was the increasing use of artificial intelligence, with writers looking for guarantees that movies and TV shows would continue to be written by humans rather than AI.
What are the terms of the agreement?
The agreement, which has been described as an “exceptional deal” by the WGA’s negotiating committee, remains a tentative one and still needs to be ratified by WGA members. The terms of the agreement aren’t expected to be disclosed until the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted.
However, picketing has been officially suspended and it is believed that writers could on Tuesday be given authorisation to return to work, which means the strike could officially be over early this week. The current strike has lasted 146 days, just shy of the record 154-day WGA strike in 1988.
WGA email to its members
In an email sent to its members on Sunday, the WGA said:
“What we have won in this contract – most particularly, everything we have gained since May 2nd – is due to the willingness of this membership to exercise its power, to demonstrate its solidarity, to walk side-by-side, to endure the pain and uncertainty of the past 146 days. It is the leverage generated by your strike, in concert with the extraordinary support of our union siblings, that finally brought the companies back to the table to make a deal.
“To be clear, no one is to return to work until specifically authorised to by the Guild. We are still on strike until then. But we are, as of today, suspending WGA picketing.”
Actors remain on strike despite writers’ agreement
However, with a separate dispute going on with actors, who have been on strike since July and are represented by the 160,000-strong SAG-AFTRA performers’ union, there is still some work to do for Hollywood to get back to “normal”.
SAG-AFTRA released a statement welcoming the news that a tentative agreement between studios and writers had been reached but doubled down on its own stance, urging the AMPTP to get round the table once again to agree a separate deal with actors.