After 148 days, the Hollywood writers' strike has finally ended.
The Writers Guild of America leaders have unanimously approved the return of their members to work after a tentative agreement was reached on Sunday between union negotiators, Hollywood studios, and streaming services. This effectively ends the months-long industry strike.
'The WGAW Board voted, along with the WGAE Council, to lift the restraining orders and end the strike at 12:01am PT/3.01am ET on September 27th. The WGA stated that this allows writers to resume work while the ratification is taking place, but it does not impact the right of the membership to approve the contract.
The tentative agreement reached earlier this week marks a turning-point for Hollywood's movie and television studios. Both the WGA, and SAG AFTRA, which represents actors, were on strike in the summer of this year to demand higher wages and protections from artificial intelligence.
The contract expires in May 2026 and includes better benefits, pay increases, protections from the studios using artificial intelligence, streaming compensation guarantees, and longer employment terms.
The minimum wage for most writers will rise 5% immediately. Another 4% will be added in May 2024, and another 3.5% by May 2025. Contributions to the health fund will rise by half a percentage point, reaching 12% of reported earnings. Writers working on the same script no longer have to divide pension and health contributions.
The growth of streaming has caused concern among writers, who lose out on the residuals paid by traditional television programs when they are rerun.
The minimum compensation for writers of teleplays and stories in big streaming productions, that is feature-length projects with budgets at least $30,000,000, will rise by 18%, to $100,000. The minimum residual pay for high-budget streaming projects will rise by over a quarter. Other residuals from video-on-demand services are a 50% bonus for writers if a fifth of subscribers watch the show in the first 3 months. This means that writers can earn more than $9,000 per half-hour episode, and $16,000 or more for an hour-long episode of big-budget shows on top services.
These services, including Netflix, Disney+, and Max, have also committed to increasing transparency regarding the number of hours that certain programs are streamed.
The WGA summarized the agreement and included AI protections. The summary stated that AI cannot write or rewrite any literary material. It also stipulated that AI-generated materials have to be disclosed to authors.
The agreement addressed residuals for streaming and data transparency. Netflix, and similar services have transformed Hollywood over the years. This has become a major issue for writers and actors in Hollywood's strikes.
The union has allowed members to return to their jobs, but the contracts they have signed with studios are not yet officially ratified. This means that union members could still reject the terms, prolonging the historic strike which has crippled the US entertainment industry.
In a statement about its own negotiations, a SAG-AFTRA spokeswoman said that the union was'reviewing WGA's proposed agreement and committed to achieving fair and just deals for our members.
The spokesperson stated that they would not speculate on the schedule or future steps.
The union stated that 'eligible voter will be able vote from the 2nd to 9th of October, and they will receive ballots and ratification material when the vote is opened.
The WGA began its strike officially on May 2. This is the longest strike in WGA history. The WGA's current record is 154 days in 1988, when they struck.
According to economists, the Hollywood strikes were costly. They had a national economic impact of over $5 billion. More than Hollywood insiders have felt the pain. Businesses that cater to entertainment, such as makeup and cleaning, and restaurants, too, have suffered.
Bill Maher announced on Tuesday that his show will officially return Friday. Maher had previously said he'd be back in the air during a writers strike, but then backed off.