We are so happy to report that The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced an end to its strike on Wednesday 27 at 12:01 a.m. PT. Yes, the writers’ strike is now officially over. This WGA strike lasted 148 days, marking the second-longest strike in the history of the union. But although difficult for all WGA members involved, the writers’ strike was well worth it. The WGA has released the details of the deal it struck with the AMPTP, and the gains and protections for writers, as promised, are exceptional.
From issues of AI to streaming data to health insurance, the WGA negotiating committee truly held its ground to receive a deal that meets the needs of its members. The WGA achieved agreement on many points that at one time seemed like an impossibility. But through the mechanism of its strike, the WGA managed to win these necessary evolutions, which will benefit writers today and in the future.
✅Minimum room size.
✅AI can’t write.
✅Disclosure of streaming numbers w/ residuals to match.
✅Guaranteed 2nd step for screenwriters.
✅Script fees for staff writers.
✅Writing teams get full payment into pension (this is huge for me specifically)
Hell. Yes. https://t.co/j7HPdCe41r
— Jackson Lanzing (@JacksonLanzing) September 27, 2023
For those interested in reviewing the full agreement between the AMPTP and the WGA, the WGA MBA summary has been released here. Here a few parts of note.
The Strike-Ending WGA Agreement on AI, Writers, and Hollywood
The topic of AI has occupied the mind of many a creative in recent history. Although it seems obvious to creators that AI could never replace the mind and passion of thinking humans, this truth appears less obvious to studios and executives. But happily, the WGA was able to successfully curb AI use in Hollywood, at least where writers are concerned.
The WGA agreement summary notes:
We have established regulations for the use of artificial intelligence (“AI”) on MBA-covered projects in the following ways:
- 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.
Basically, AI is out and writers are in. We love to see it.
The WGA Agreement on Streaming Data Transparency
Writers, and many parts of the industry, have felt great frustration over not knowing exactly how their work performs on streaming channels. Of course, not knowing and not getting paid correlate heavily. When it comes to streaming numbers and performance, the WGA’s strike-ending agreement reveals:
The Companies agree to provide the Guild, subject to a confidentiality agreement, the total number of hours streamed, both domestically and internationally, of self-produced high budget streaming programs (e.g., a Netflix original series). The Guild may share information with the membership in aggregated form.
In addition, viewership hours on streaming will factor into bonuses for writers in work created for a High Budget Subscription Video on Demand channels.
The WGA Agreement on Health and Pension Contributions for Writing Teams
It seems wild, but it’s true, that since writing teams were paid together they had to split pension and health contributions. Now, “each writer on a writing team employed for a script will receive pension and health contributions up to the relevant cap as though they were a single writer, rather than splitting the applicable cap.” That, we imagine, is a truly meaningful evolution to those that it affects.
The Writers’ Strike Is Over, What’s Next?
In addition to all of this, many other gains were made in terms of script fees, room sizes, time writers get to spend on a production, and more. Given that the WGA announced the strike is over, writers can officially return to work. The agreement, however, still needs to be ratified. A release from the WGA shares more. It notes, “[The agreement] will now go to both guilds’ memberships for a ratification vote. Eligible voters will be able to vote from October 2nd through October 9th, and will receive ballot and ratification materials when the vote opens.” Then the membership will “make a final determination on contract approval.”
While this is great news for writers, the work for unions is not over. SAG-AFTRA remains on strike and has not yet received meaningful acknowledgment from the studios. In fact, a second SAG-AFTRA strike aimed at achieving fair compensation and protections for video game work has been authorized. Members of all unions and non-union members alike should continue to show solidarity and help fight for the good of all. Here are some ideas on how you can help!