The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and major film and television studios have reached a tentative agreement, potentially ending a five-month-long strike that has disrupted Hollywood. The WGA announced the development on Sunday, attributing the progress to solidarity among its members and the power of collective bargaining.
WGA said in an email to its members, “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”. WGA stressed that it was the leverage generated by the strike, coupled with the extraordinary support from other unions, that finally brought the companies back to negotiate a deal.
While the specifics of the agreement are not yet disclosed, the WGA, representing over 11,000 writers, has expressed pride in the deal, highlighting notable gains and protections for writers across all sectors. However, the agreement still requires ratification by WGA members before it can officially end the strike.
The strike’s end is not immediate, with the WGA making it clear that no one should return to work until authorized by the Guild. Despite this, WGA picketing has been suspended, with the Guild urging its members to support the ongoing strike by the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, which has been striking since mid-July.
President Joe Biden praised the tentative agreement, stating, “I urge all employers to remember that all workers – including writers, actors, and autoworkers – deserve a fair share of the value their labor helped create”. He lauded the power of collective bargaining and urged all employers to fairly compensate their workers.
The strikes have had a significant nationwide economic impact, estimated at over $5 billion, affecting industries beyond entertainment. Restaurants, service firms, and prop shops have had to cut staffing, and New York alone suffered a loss of $1.3 billion and 17,000 jobs due to the disruption of major productions.
The WGA may authorize its members to return to work before the agreement is officially ratified, potentially leading to writers returning to work in just a few days. This development has sparked optimism that a similar agreement can be reached with the actors’ union.
Writers have expressed concerns over declining revenue streams from traditional television and the impact of streaming services, which often have shorter seasons and fewer job opportunities for writers. They also voiced worries about artificial intelligence in production and the need to protect the role of human writers. The use of generative artificial intelligence in production was a sticking point in the negotiations, highlighting the changing landscape of the entertainment industry.