WGA Strike ends after 148 days

US screenwriters will be able to go back to work after boards of WGA unanimously approve a deal with US studios.

The Writers Guild of America strike is officially over after 148 days.

The board of the WGA West and council of the WGA East voted unanimously on Tuesday to lift the strike order as of 12:01 a.m. PT on Wednesday following a tentative agreement on a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

That means writers can go back to work as of Wednesday even before the final ratification vote.

“Today, your Negotiating Committee, the WGAW Board and WGAE Council all voted unanimously to recommend the agreement,” the guild said today of tentative agreement worked out with the studios and streamers on Sunday. “It will now go to both Guilds’ memberships for a ratification vote. Eligible voters will receive ballot and materials for the vote which will take place from October 2nd to October 9th.”

If, on the off chance that members reject the tentative agreement that was worked out on Sunday, the strike will start back up again.

The deal includes gains in compensation, a new requirement for minimum staff levels in TV writers rooms, improvement payment terms for screenwriters and protections for the use of artificial intelligence in the writing process. Per the guild’s agreement:

  • AI can’t write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not be considered source material under the MBA, meaning that AI-generated material can’t be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights.
  • A writer can choose to use AI when performing writing services, if the company consents and provided that the writer follows applicable company policies, but the company can’t require the writer to use AI software (e.g., ChatGPT) when performing writing services.
  • The Company must disclose to the writer if any materials given to the writer have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material.
  • The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.

Development rooms (aka pre-greenlight rooms) and regular writers’ rooms for television and HBSVOD series will also have requirements regarding the minimum number of writers who must be hired and the duration of their employment.

  • Development rooms: Once three writers are convened before a series order, at least three writer-producers (including the showrunner) are guaranteed 10 consecutive weeks of employment.
  • Development rooms where writers are guaranteed 20 weeks of work or more are treated as post-greenlight rooms. For these rooms on first season shows, the minimum staff size required will be 3 writer-producers (including the showrunner). For these rooms in the second or subsequent season of a show the required minimum number of writers is determined by the anticipated episode order.

The deal should now mean an improvement in negotiations with  SAG-AFTRA currently in a 75-day strike. But the two sides still remain deadlocked on issues of general wage increases, a proposal to give union members a cut of platform subscriber revenue when their streaming projects succeed and regulations on artificial intelligence, among other issues.

Then there will be a long tail on work hitting screens, imapcted well into 2024 and even 2025…

Source: Variety, Deadline, Hollywood Reporter

3 Responses

  1. So, if a writer uses AI to “help” write a script, does that mean they only get half the pay?
    And then what happens to that TV episode or Movie, now that a court has ruled that material created by AI cant be copyrighted.

    Seems this will create more confusion than it already does now.

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