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Writers Guild of America Ratifies Three-Year Contract with Hollywood Studios

Ryan Lenett



After a tumultuous year filled with extensive negotiations and the second-longest strike in its history, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has officially ratified its new three-year contract with Hollywood and television studios. On Monday, the WGA announced the conclusion of the voting process, revealing an overwhelming 99% approval rate. Out of the 8,525 valid votes cast, a whopping 8,435 members supported the contract while only 90 opposed it. The new agreement will be effective from September 25, 2023, until May 1, 2026.

Key Benefits of the New Contract

  • Pay increases for writers over the next three years.
  • New restrictions on artificial intelligence usage in writing.
  • Introduction of a viewership-based residual system for streaming platforms.
  • Higher contribution rates to health benefits and pensions.
  • A guaranteed minimum number of writers in writers’ rooms for television productions.

Reactions from WGA Leadership

Meredith Stiehm, president of the Writers Guild of America West, expressed gratitude and pride in the outcome. “Through solidarity and determination, we have ratified a contract with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of our combined membership,” she stated. Furthermore, Stiehm acknowledged the efforts of WGA chief negotiator Ellen Stutzman, negotiating committee co-chairs Chris Keyser and David A. Goodman, and many other individuals who played pivotal roles in achieving the industry-changing contract.

Historical Context of the Agreement

The ratification draws a curtain on WGA’s challenging 2023 bargaining cycle which saw a historic 148-day strike. This action not only halted writing work but also disrupted ongoing Hollywood productions as members picketed in front of them, urging other industry workers to show solidarity by not crossing the picket lines. The strategy effectively brought Hollywood’s day-to-day activities to a near standstill. This tension was further intensified when SAG-AFTRA, the actors union, went on strike on July 14.

During this period, many industry workers faced challenges such as food insecurity and potential eviction threats. It took the intervention of industry leaders like Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and NBCUniversal Studio Group chairman Donna Langley to break the deadlock. Their involvement expedited the negotiation process, leading to a tentative deal announcement on September 24.

SAG-AFTRA’s Stance

With the WGA strike resolved, attention has now shifted to the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The actors guild has begun its negotiations with major industry players like Disney, Paramount, Netflix, Universal, and Warner Bros. Discovery. WGA East President, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen emphasized, “Until the studios make a deal that addresses the needs of performers, WGA members will be on the picket lines, walking side-by-side with SAG-AFTRA in solidarity.”

AMPTP’s Response

In a statement, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) congratulated the WGA on its new contract. They acknowledged the contract’s “meaningful gains and protections for writers” and highlighted the industry’s progress by noting that the writers are now back at work.

Implications for the Entertainment Industry

As the dust settles following the successful ratification of the WGA’s contract, the larger entertainment industry now faces the task of recalibrating and making up for lost time. The long-drawn strike not only impacted the immediate projects in production but also set a precedent for how future labor negotiations might be approached.

The Road to Recovery

Now that writers are back, hammering away at their keyboards, the aftershocks of the strike still linger. Countless projects got pushed back or tossed aside and there’s a mad scramble to breathe life into these dormant ideas while also firing up new ones. Balancing this backlog with seizing new content opportunities is going to be a juggling act for movie studios, TV networks, and streaming giants. To give you an example, late-night talk shows featuring bigwigs like Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver were quick on their feet post-strike. They led the charge, setting a positive precedent in the industry’s recovery.

Concluding Remarks

The 2023 negotiations and strikes demonstrated labor’s power and the importance of workers’ rights in the ever-evolving entertainment industry. Many view the ratified contract as a significant step forward, setting a precedent for future negotiations in the Hollywood ecosystem. It serves as a testament to the persistence and unity of the WGA members, ensuring their voices were heard and their demands met.

For more insights on the Hollywood strikes and their impact on the industry, visit The Hollywood Reporter.

Ryan is a car enthusiast and an accomplished team builder passionate about crafting captivating narratives. Known for his ability to transport readers to other worlds, his writing has garnered attention and a dedicated following. With a keen eye for detail and a gift for storytelling, Ryan continues to weave literary magic in every word he writes.