WGA Reaches a Deal to End Strike

By: Alyssa Cortes

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) after 148 days on strike, posting on X, “And we won. #WGAStrong.”

The WGA announced on Sept. 24 that a tentative agreement had been reached, with the WGA voting to end the strike two days later, allowing more than 11,000 workers to return to work starting Sept. 27

The WGA agreed to a three-year deal, winning much of what they proposed. 

The deal includes increased compensation for writers with pay raises in writer’s weekly wages for the next three years and boosted residuals based on show performance. Streaming companies will now provide writers with viewership data.

A new minimum staffing requirement was added to television writers’ rooms based on episode runs, preventing “mini-rooms,” a tactic studios would use to hire a small team to manage a full-size project, causing writers to be overworked and often underpaid.

The WGA secured protection from artificial intelligence (AI) generated material as now it will not be source material and, therefore, cannot be used to undermine a writer’s job or creditability. 

“A.I. may be able to come up with new ideas, but it will never be able to replace the creativity of the human mind,” said Ana Diaz, a freshman at The University of Tampa. 

However, a writer can still use A.I. when performing writing services if they choose to do so while following appropriate guidelines. 

The WGA secured a win over an issue that has plagued writers for years: guaranteed compensation.

“When I heard about some of the things agreed to in the deal, I was shocked,” said Jess Flitsch, a freshman at UT. “How were writers just not being paid for their work?” 

When staff writers are individually responsible for writing a particular episode script, they will be paid script fees in addition to their weekly wages, something they didn’t receive before. Film writers will now get paid when submitting a second draft of a movie. Writers will find qualifying for health insurance easier as the entire script fees will now count towards annual minimums.

When reflecting on the 148-day-long strike, WGA West President Meredith Stiehm said, “This strike was way too long because the companies took so long to get serious…I feel sad and pained that it took this long because when we got serious, we got it done in a reasonable amount of time. So much was wasted and lost by just not acting earlier.” 

The WGA initiated the strike on May 2, 2023, to secure improved compensation, more equitable contractual terms, and oversight in the use of artificial intelligence. The WGA represents thousands of workers who contribute to various media sectors, encompassing film, online content, news, radio and television. 

“Due to the strike, many of my favorite shows new seasons have been pushed back at least a year,” said Sofia Franklin, a freshman at UT.

The strike has led to the suspension and delay of numerous projects, including multiple Marvel films, the third season of “Yellowjackets,” the third season of “Abbot Elementary,” the “Emmys,” and many others.

However, with the end of the strike, writers have put down their signs and picked up their pens, with many projects announcing their return dates.

Late-night and daytime talk shows have begun to announce their return through social media, “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and “The Tonight Show” returning as soon as Monday, Oct. 2. 

Many television writing rooms have already begun work. Stranger Things, who halted production of season five a month before filming intended to start, posted “We’re back” on X Sept. 27. 

“I’m so excited for new projects that are now in the works! Especially the final season of ‘Stranger Things,’ and season two of ‘The Last of Us’,” said Diaz.

Amidst this strike’s impact on the entertainment industry, it’s worth noting the last WGA strike took place in 2007 and lasted scarcely 100 days. This strike is now the second lengthiest in WGA history, surpassed only by the 1998 strike, which lasted 154 days. 

These strikes serve as a reminder of the challenges and disruptions faced by both the industry and its workers when labor disputes of this magnitude occur.

While the WGA successfully reached a deal, the entertainment industry continues to grapple with labor tensions as the SAG-AFTRA strike persists. However, this deal sparked renegotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AAMPTP starting Oct. 2, 80 days into their strike. 

“It’s about time writers are getting their checks, but without performers to read their words, there are bound to be further delays between page and screen,” said Flitsch. “Especially since many people like Quinta Brunson are members of both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA.”

In solidarity, WGA members will continue to picket alongside SAG-AFTRA, promoting so on social media and their website.

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