After several long back-to-back days of negotiations, the Writers Guild of America and the union representing studios and streamers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract in a major development that could mark the end of a historic 146-day writers’ strike.
The Writers Guild of America emailed strike captains the news Sunday evening, and shortly thereafter the bargaining committee informed members. “We have reached a preliminary agreement on a new MBA for 2023, i.e. an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to the drafting of the final contract language,” the message said. “We are very proud to say that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful benefits and protections for writers in every sector of its members.”
The Hollywood Reporter has contacted the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for comment.
The parties agreed Sunday to a tentative three-year deal, which must be ratified by WGA members to take effect, after studios responded to last-minute union queries that day. Details of the deal, which affects about 11,500 WGA members, were not available at the time of writing, although they will emerge in the coming days as the union looks to sell its members on the pact.
In its message to members, the union’s bargaining committee asked for patience on the details of the pact: “What remains now is for our employees to ensure that everything we agreed to is codified in the final contract language. And while we would love to share the details of what has been achieved, we cannot do that until the final ‘i’ has been crossed.” The deal will first go to the union’s bargaining committee for a vote, then to the WGA West board and WGA East board; if approved by those leaders, members can vote to ratify the contract.
During the final weekend of negotiations, lawyers huddled before the studios presented their so-called “best and final” offer on Saturday evening. Later that same evening, the AMPTP and WGA issued a joint statement saying they would meet again on Sunday. And indeed, despite the supposed finality of the studios’ earlier proposal, the union returned to their negotiating partners on Sunday afternoon with some additional questions before the parties finally concluded negotiations.
The mood among writers on Friday’s crowded picket lines was one of cautious optimism, as union members expected the historic work stoppage to end soon. “The fact that they’re talking for three days straight is amazing,” says showrunner Marc Guggenheim (Legends of tomorrow) told The Hollywood Reporter at Disney. Sources on the studio side familiar with the progress in the room also projected positivity in recent days as management made moves on areas including AI, TV staffing and remaining compensation tied to streaming show performance. That upbeat mood dipped Thursday night, when studio sources claimed the WGA returned late at night with new questions about items management thought had already been closed; but returned on Friday when the parties made compromises.
The momentum in talks over the course of the past week was a welcome change of pace from the month-long standstill in negotiations that occurred after a meeting between WGA leaders and several CEOs plus AMPTP President Carol Lombardini in late August, which ended in mutual accusations. . The AMPTP publicly announced its August 11 offer, and the WGA denounced the meeting, saying the leaders got a “lecture on how good their one and only counter-offer was.” The pause in talks was lifted on September 14, when the AMPTP announced that the WGA had reached out to resume negotiations and that both sides were working on a schedule for the following week.
On day 146 After the ongoing WGA strike, the work stoppage began to become the longest in the union’s history. The current record was set in 1988, when the WGA hit Hollywood companies for 154 days.
While still preliminary, the agreement is a momentous development for an industry hobbled by the twin WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the first time in more than sixty years that both have occurred simultaneously. The WGA strike had an immediate impact, with filming in Los Angeles down 29 percent between April and June 2023 compared to the same period last year when the writers’ work stoppage began on May 2, local office FilmLA reported on April 19. projects were stopped and/or postponed, including those of Netflix Stranger thingsApple TV+s LootMarvel’s Blade 2 and Lightning strikes and others. When SAG-AFTRA joined the strike, a number of additional projects were added, including Venom 3, Gladiator 2 And Deadpool 3 followed.
A tentative agreement does not eliminate the possibility of the strike continuing, as WGA members could still reject the deal in an upcoming ratification vote. The stakes and expectations are high, given the long work stoppage so far. In the coming days, however, the WGA leadership will undoubtedly work hard to convince their members of the benefits of the deal.
Negotiations on the agreement began on March 20 and broke down on the night of May 1, resulting in a strike the next day. The two sides reconvened on August 11, came to a standstill in late August, but resumed on September 20 and concluded their negotiations on September 23. The writers had argued for major compensation in the streaming age, through higher wage floors, regulation and regulation. of mini-rooms and residues related to the performance of their shows. Meanwhile, studios and streamers — feeling pressure to cut costs after Wall Street launched unprofitable streaming operations in 2022 and amid an uncertain economic climate — tried to rein in their spending on labor. It remains to be seen how both parties managed to reach a compromise that could satisfy their voters.
The writers were led in their negotiations by WGA West assistant director Ellen Stutzman, who stepped up to the plate after the Western branch of the union’s executive director, David Young, went on medical leave prior to the start of talks. Carol Lombardini, AMPTP’s chief negotiator since 2009, led the talks for producers.
Now it’s up to WGA members to determine whether the deal addresses the workplace issues their colleagues have been raising for months. All eyes are on the union’s ratification vote for the deal, the date of which has not yet been announced.