The WGA stands on the right side of history. The 5-month long Writer’s Strike has come to an end as a new contract was forged granting the WGA all that they deserve.
After the WGA’s legal team approved a tentative deal with the AMPTP in the late hours of Sunday evening, they held a ratification process on Tuesday on whether or not to end the strike. By approximately midnight this morning, the WGA strike officially ended.
Problems surrounding residuals, staffing, artificial intelligence, and the AMPTP’s stubbornness were among the reasons why the WGA had to stand their ground and fight for the integrity of every working writer in Hollywood. Finally, the WGA can reap the benefits of their courage and determination.
The WGA MBA is valid from September 25, 2023, to May 1, 2026.
The WGA Rises With Residuals
“The Guild negotiated a new residual based on viewership. Made-for HBSVOD series and films that are viewed by 20% or more of the service’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of release, or in the first 90 days in any subsequent exhibition year, get a bonus equal to 50% of the fixed domestic and foreign residual, with views calculated as hours streamed domestically of the season or film divided by runtime.
For instance, projects written under the new MBA on the largest streaming services would receive a bonus of $9,031 for a half-hour episode, $16,415 for a one-hour episode, or $40,500 for a streaming feature over $30 million in budget. This bonus structure will take effect for projects released on or after January 1, 2024.“via WGA
The WGA went on to say: “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.”
More Money, Less Problems
In regards to minimum salaries, The WGA got a pay raise of 5%-4%-3.5%, identical to what the DGA got without striking. However, the WGA MBA states that “some minimums and rates increase less, mostly by 3% each year, while a few rates increase only once or do not increase over the contract. These exceptions are the result of patterns established in the industry.”
Monumental progress was made in regard to WGA’s demands for minimum staffing and terms of employment in TV writers’ rooms. Prior to the strike, there was no minimum staffing, but from December 1st, development rooms or pre-greenlight rooms, and regular writers’ rooms for television and streaming series will have conditions regarding the minimum number of writers who must be hired and the duration of their employment.
“These new provisions go into effect for seasons where the first episode is written after December 1, 2023 assuming ratification in October.
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.”
Writing teams will also be given increased pension and healthcare contributions up to the relevant cap as if they were a single writer, rather than dividing the applicable cap. Moreover, when a writing team is employed on a series, the contribution per writer on the team will be made on the full weekly minimum instead of one-half of the weekly minimum.
AI Has No Business Here!
A major issue that was arguably the most concerning was Artificial Intelligence. We can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the AMPTP’s agenda to replace writers with AI for whatever shortcut reasons is over.
According to the terms of the agreement: “AI can’t write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not be considered source material”. In layman’s terms, AI can not be used to replace any writer, and it has no rights whatsoever.
Writers are however given the option to use AI as the MBA summary notes: “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 also must divulge to the writer if any materials given to the writer have been developed by AI or include AI-generated material in any capacity, and the WGA states that it “reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.”
The WGA Stands On The Right Side Of History
“What we have won in this contract 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” that came with the strike. “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.”via WGA
Just as David conquered Goliath, the WGA conquered the AMPTP as the studio executives were deceived by their own hubris, and a path for the writers to get everything they deserved was cleared.
It’s gratifying to know that the WGA finally achieved what they’ve been fighting for, we await the conclusion of the SAG-AFTRA while we continue to support all the hard-working actors and artists within the industry who are still struggling during this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we hope for a resolution in the near future.
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