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Strike Averted: Hollywood Writers, Producers Reach Tentative Zero-Hour Deal

It went well past the wire but in the end, the WGA and AMPTP came to agreement on key issues — and a new contract

Right down to the wire and well past it, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reached an agreement on a new contract, averting a strike that could have scuttled entertainment industry production for months.

The previous contract between writers and producers expired at midnight on May 1, but both sides agreed to a 10-minute extension to hammer out the details. Among the issues that needed to be sorted out between producers and writers was “span” — shorthand for the length of time writers work for what they’re paid. Writers on television are usually paid per episode, even if a short order series requires the same amount of time, or similar, to complete as a traditional season length. The WGA sought higher compensation on shows where the work schedule for writers runs more than two weeks per episode.

Among other WGA demands were stronger economic and workplace protections, paid family leave for writers, the health care plan, and exclusivity.

The agreement was reached after contract talks were extended after the midnight deadline. Rumors of a deal begin spreading at around 12:30 A.M., and writers and entertainers unsurprisingly took to twitter to share memes and express anxiety about the unfolding drama.

Both WGA and AMPTP were determined to avoid a strike, and on Friday the guild revealed a new demand to AMPTP that it said would cost the studios “$156 million annually over the entire industry.” That was a drop of more than $20 million from the guild’s previous proposal, outlined earlier this month, that put the cost to the industry at $178 million a year, with the six largest firms ponying up $117 million of that.

WGA and AMPTP began negotiating a new contract in early March, but those talks were discontinued March 24 when agreement could not be reached, and the WGA’s negotiating committee called for a strike authorization vote. On April 25, members overwhelmingly voted in favor of striking if an agreement cannot be reached, and the WGA returned to the negotiating table the same day.

Following the strike authorization vote, the WGA wrote to members that it was “determined to achieve a fair contract.” The AMPTP echoed that sentiment in a follow up statement, writing that they were also “committed to reaching a deal.”