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October 30, 2023IM -
Hollywood writers and members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in early October, officially ending a 150-day strike. The terms of the new agreement will run from September 25, 2023, through May 1, 2026.
“Through solidarity and determination, we have ratified a contract with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of our combined membership,” WGA West President Meredith Stiehm says. “Together, we were able to accomplish what many said was impossible only six months ago.”
WGA was successful in achieving increased regulations surrounding the use of artificial intelligence (AI), minimum staffing requirements, viewership-based streaming bonuses, more data transparency, higher health and pension contribution rates, a boost to streaming residuals, and more. A 5% wage increase this year will be followed by a 4% jump in 2024 and a 3.5% boost in 2025.
While the writers came to an agreement with the studios, there is still no deal for members of SAG-AFTRA, which remains firmly on the picket lines. In the meantime, SAG-AFTRA video game workers are considering a second strike.
The actors’ strike began July 14 after failing to reach a deal with the AMPTP. It was the first such walkout in 43 years. After an agreement could not be reached by the contract expiration June 30, talks were extended for two weeks until July 12. A federal mediator was brought in before the extension ended, still with no new contract.
SAG-AFTRA is fighting for more protections surrounding the role of AI in media and entertainment, which “has already proven to be a real and immediate threat to the work of our members and can mimic members’ voices, likenesses, and performances,” according to SAG-AFTRA.
Much of the disagreement centered on streaming residuals, the fees paid out when shows or movies are re-aired after their initial release. With international distribution becoming a dominant form of revenue, SAG-AFTRA hoped to bolster the residual formula and have residuals reflect the success of shows.
The AMPTP claims the streaming revenue proposal for cast members “would cost more than $800 million per year, which would create an untenable economic burden.” But, SAG-AFTRA says the AMPTP overstated the cost by 60%, accusing the studios of “bully tactics.”
Following AMPTP walking away from negotiations on October 11, a united press statement in support of SAG-AFTRA was released by the entertainment unions—WGA, the Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Teamsters, Hollywood Basic Crafts, and AFM—collectively demanding the AMPTP resume negotiations in good faith.
The statement read, in part, “Our members work side-by-side for the same handful of employers, and our unions and guilds collectively stand more united than ever. Each day a fair contract addressing actors’ unique priorities is delayed is another day working professionals across our industry suffer unnecessarily. At this point, it should be clear to the studios and the AMPTP that more is needed than proposals which merely replicate the terms negotiated with other unions.”
Musicians share the field of battle with the actors and writers in the face of AMPTP’s continuing refusal to provide meaningful streaming residuals and generative AI guarantees. The AFM’s own theatrical and television film contracts with AMPTP expire on November 13.
In preparation for upcoming film/TV negotiations, AFM members and union leadership from Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and Local 7 (Orange County, CA) convened at Local 47’s office in Burbank, CA, on October 19 for an all-day organizing training session hosted by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
As the SAG-AFTRA strike against Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) lingers on, musicians continue to show solidarity on the picket lines, while gearing up for their own negotiations with AMPTP studios when AFM contracts expire November 13. The AFM’s national “Fair Share for Musicians” campaign focuses on ensuring musicians get a fair share of revenue from made-for-streaming movies and television shows and are protected from job loss due to AI, as well as other issues.