Sep 26, 2023 - Economy

Writers strike officially over, ending second-longest walkout in WGA history

 Striking WGA (Writers Guild of America) members picket with striking SAG-AFTRA members outside Netflix studios on September 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Striking Writers Guild of America members picket with striking SAG-AFTRA members outside Netflix studios on Sept. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

After 148 days of tense negotiations, long picket lines and stalled production, the leadership for the Writers Guild of America on Tuesday voted to officially end the Hollywood writers strike on Wednesday at 12:01am PT.

Why it matters: More than 11,500 writers are now eligible to return to work —which should jumpstart production of most live talk shows, including late-night, in the coming days and weeks.

  • Shows that require acting will likely remain on hold, given the ongoing actors strike that started in mid-July.

Details: In a letter to WGA members sent Tuesday, WGA leadership confirmed that its negotiating committee and the leadership bodies governing its east and west divisions had all voted unanimously to approve the agreement.

Yes, but: The deal isn't sealed yet. Members of the WGA still need to vote to ratify the agreement. Votes will take place Oct. 2-9.

Key takeaways: The three-year deal, published by the WGA alongside the update Tuesday night, gives WGA members most of what they had been fighting for, including wage increases, better residual payouts, staffing minimums and guidelines around the use of artificial intelligence.

  • Wages: Most minimum wages for writers subject to the agreement will increase by 5% once the contract is ratified by members, presumably in the next few days or weeks. They will increase, 4% on May 2, 2024, and 3.5% on May 2, 2025.
  • Residuals: The deal provides a new payout structure for writers based on the viewership of streaming shows, instead of a flat fee, beginning for projects released on or after Jan. 1, 2024. It also increases the residual payouts for foreign streaming projects, pegging the payout figure to the number of foreign subscribers to a streaming service globally.
  • Data transparency: Streamers must provide WGA members with confidential data around the performance of streaming shows.
  • Staffing minimums: Studios must hire a certain number of writers to work on shows and meet a minimum duration requirement for their employment, beginning with shows where the first episode is written after Dec. 1, 2023.
  • Artificial intelligence usage: The deal establishes regulations for the use of AI on projects covered by writers subject to the contract. It says that AI "can't write or rewrite literary material," and AI-generated material "can't be used to undermine a writer's credit or separated rights."
  • Artificial intelligence rights: Writers can choose to use AI when performing writing services with consent from its production partner, but it can't be forced to do so. Studios are also required to disclose to writers if any materials given to them have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material. Usage of writers' material to train AI is prohibited.
  • Benefits: The deal also gives writers an increased health and pension contribution rate.

The big picture: Some aspects of the deal, particularly the framework around leveraging AI, could act as a template for future labor negotiations.

  • Wages and artificial intelligence are also big sticking points in the ongoing actors strike, as well as current labor negotiations between news companies and their management.

Go deeper: Hollywood writers' contract deal includes historic AI rules

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