After 146 days on the picket lines, the Writers Guild of America has reached a tentative agreement in principle with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new labor contract, potentially ending one of the two strikes that has shut down Hollywood through the summer.
“What we have won in this contract — most particularly, everything we have gained since May 2 — 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,” the WGA said in a memo to members announcing the deal. “It is the leverage generated by your strike, in concert with the extraordinary support of our union siblings, that finally brought the companies back to the table to make a deal.”
As the agreement is in principle, the WGA says that the negotiating committee is still currently putting the final touches on contract language with the AMPTP before it is presented to the WGA West board and WGA East Council for approval. That board vote is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, assuming that the contract language is completed by then.
“Though we are eager to share the details of what has been achieved with you, we cannot do that until the last ‘i’ is dotted. To do so would complicate our ability to finish the job. So, as you have been patient with us before, we ask you to be patient again — one last time,” the guild’s memo read.
In the meantime, all WGA picket lines will be suspended, though writers are still officially on strike until authorized to return to work by the guild. In its memo, WGA encouraged members those who are able to join SAG-AFTRA’s strike picket lines in solidarity.
The tentative deal came after talks resumed between the guild and AMPTP on Wednesday, a restart that was preceded by nearly a month of stalled negotiations and finger-pointing between the two sides as to who should make the next counterproposal. AMPTP’s first counterproposal sent to the guild on Aug. 11 was described by the guild in a memo to members as “not nothing, nor nearly enough.”
But escalating financial pressure on the studios from months of production shutdowns along with urging from showrunners concerned about the financial insecurity of their writers and crew members brought the two sides back to the table for several days of talks that led to this deal, which the guild says contains “meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.”
Four studio CEOs — Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav — were present throughout the first three days of negotiations at the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks headquarters.
With several key sticking points resolved during the week, including staffing requirements and further compensation for writers whose films and shows perform well on streaming, the talks continued through the weekend without the CEOs present, with lawyers on both sides negotiating the fine print details of the contract.
With the WGA deal now in place, the AMPTP’s attention will turn to SAG-AFTRA, which has been on strike since July 14. Studio insiders have told TheWrap that they expect negotiations with the actors guild to happen quickly, as studios are anxious to get productions up and running again and for actors to be once again available for awards and marketing campaigns.
In its own statement, SAG-AFTRA congratulated the Writers Guild for its deal and its “incredible strength, resiliency and solidarity on the picket lines.”
“While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members. Since the day the WGA strike began, SAG-AFTRA members have stood alongside the writers on the picket lines. We remain on strike in our TV/Theatrical contract and continue to urge the studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand,” the actors’ guild wrote.