Writers have officially approved their deal with the studios.
This afternoon, the WGA membership ratified its contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, bringing to a final end to the strike that lasted for nearly five months.
After a week of voting, a vast majority of the WGA membership cast their ballot in favor of ratifying the three-year Minimum Basic Agreement. Some 8,525 valid votes, or “99% of WGA members,” as the guild termed it just now, were cast by members of the 11,000-strong Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East.
“There were 8,435 ‘yes’ votes and 90 ‘no’ votes,” the guild announced in an email sent to members.
With major strides for scribes in terms of A.I. guardrails, residuals, writers room staffing, and data transparency, as well as pay hikes, the now sealed deal runs from September 25, 2023 to May 31, 2026.
Monday’s widely expected strong ratification result comes nearly two weeks after the two sides struck a tentative agreement on September 24, ending the 148-day strike, the second longest after the scribes’ 1988 strike. The results also come on the same day the still striking SAG-AFTRA started up its second week of renewed talks with the AMPTP. Side-by-side with the WGA for much of the summer, the 160,000-strong actors union hit the picket lines in mid-July
The WGA went out on its first strike in 15-years on May 2 as its last contract with the studios and streamers expired. Picket lines went up all over NYC and LA and elsewhere in the USA, but the two sides did not speak officially for over 100 days.
Starting on September 20, after a studio fumbled restart in August, Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley and Disney’s Bob Iger finally sat down directly with WGA chief negotiator Ellen Stutzman, as well as former guild presidents David Goodman and Chris Keyser and other members of the WGA Negotiating Committee in hopes of a breakthrough.
On September 26, two days after that breakthrough deal was achieved, the WGA West Board and WGA East Council both voted unanimously to recommend the agreement to their members and sent it out for a vote. At the same time, WGAW President Meredith Stiehm and WGAE President Lisa Takeuchi told members that they “strongly endorse this proposed contract and encourage you to vote for its ratification.”
Today both Stiehm and Takeuchi praise the massive mandate members gave the agreement.
“Through solidarity and determination, we have ratified a contract with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of our combined membership,” the WGAW leader said after the vote tally was made public. “Together we were able to accomplish what many said was impossible only six months ago. We would not have been able to achieve this industry-changing contract without WGA Chief Negotiator Ellen Stutzman, Negotiating Committee co-chairs Chris Keyser and David A. Goodman, the entire WGA Negotiating Committee, strike captains, lot coordinators, and the staff that supported every part of the negotiation and strike.”
“Now it’s time for the AMPTP to put the rest of the town back to work by negotiating a fair contract with our SAG-AFTRA siblings, who have supported writers throughout our negotiations,” WGAE chief stated. “Until the studios make a deal that addresses the needs of performers, WGA members will be on the picket lines, walking side-by-side with SAG-AFTRA in solidarity.”
In a statement of their own, the Carol Lombardini-led AMPTP took a more measured response to today’s ratification vote. “The AMPTP member companies congratulate the WGA on the ratification of its new contract, which represents meaningful gains and protections for writers,” the studio and streamers’ representing group said. “It is important progress for our industry that writers are back to work.”
WGA members around the country received their ratification ballots and support material via email on October 2. Voting ran through 1 p.m. PT today, with the guild holding a noon Q&A session at its Fairfax and 3rd Avenue headquarters. That session was sparsely attended, we hear. The small attendance was in some part due to a significant contingent of writers guild members voting fairly early last week.
The last time the writers were on strike – in 2007/08 – the subsequent deal was ratified by 93.6% with 4,060 votes cast.
With the West Coast board and the East Coast council lifting the restraining order and ending the long strike as of 12:01 a.m. PT on September 27, writers have already returned to work. While the actors are still on strike, supported by many WGA members, there is optimism that things are moving smoothly with those talks, which restarted today after bargaining last week.
As the currently negotiating SAG-AFTRA continue to seek their own agreement with the studios and streamers, many shows started their writers room back up in the past week as the broadcast networks, cablers and streaming services look to get their slates back into production soon. Celebrity guests are still few and fair between, but already late-night shows are back on the air, as are the majority of daytime shows. Saturday Night Live is set to kick off its 49th season on October 14.
There was no picketing today by SAG-AFTRA or its allies in respect of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day holiday.
Carol Dennis is an entertainment aficionado with an eye for all things pop culture. She dives into the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, from movie premieres to music festivals. Carol’s passion for storytelling extends beyond her reporting, as she’s an aspiring screenwriter in her free time.