Writers Guild of America members have officially, overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract with Hollywood’s studios and streaming services, as evidenced by a tallying of ballots from a vote that ended on Monday afternoon, but many writers have no plans to leave the picket lines.
Hollywood’s writers–of TV shows, films, and internet programming–have spoken once and for all–at least for the next three years. On Monday, members of the Writers Guild of America voted to ratify a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), bringing an official end to a nearly five-month-long strike.
The victory comes after a week of voting during which an overwhelming majority of WGA members cast ballots in favor of ratifying a new three-year contract with the AMPTP. More than 8,500 votes were cast in the measure. Of those, 8,435 were “yes” votes, and 90 were “no” votes.
99% of WGA members have voted in favor of ratifying the 2023 MBA. 🧵
— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) October 9, 2023
The widely expected ratification on Monday comes almost two weeks after the WGA and AMPTP struck a tentative deal on September 24. That agreement finally put an end to the nearly 150-day strike–the longest writers’ strike to take place since 1988. Monday also marked the beginning of the second week of talks between SAG-AFTRA, still on strike since mid-July, and the AMPTP. In total, the SAG-AFTRA strikers number 160,000.
On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America went on strike for the first time in 15 years following the expiration of the guild’s contract with Hollywood film studios and streaming services. Though strikers formed picket lines that wound around places in New York City and Los Angeles, the opponents did not attempt talks for more than 100 days.
But on September 20, studio brass, including David Zaslav with Warner Bros. Discovery, Ted Sarandos from Netflix, Donna Langley from NBCUniversal, and Disney CEO Bob Iger, sat down to talk with the Writer Guild of America’s negotiator Ellen Stutzman and former Guild leaders Chris Keyser and David A. Goodman. Other members of the WGA Negotiating Committee were also present. The hope was that some type of a breakthrough might be reached between the two sides.
Two days after that “breakthrough deal” was finally achieved on September 24, it was put to a vote by the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council, both of which voted unanimously to recommend the new deal to their members. It was then sent out for a vote as WGA West President Meredith Stiehm and WGA East President Lisa Takeuchi announced that they “strongly endorse this proposed contract and encourage [members] to vote for its ratification.
“Through solidarity and determination, we have ratified a contract with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of our combined membership,” Stiehm, WGA West president, said after the votes were tallied. “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.”
— Writers Guild of America East (@WGAEast) October 9, 2023
WGA East President Lisa Takeuchi said that members of the Writers Guild of America would be on the picket lines with members of SAG-AFTRA in a show of support for them until they, too, get a fair deal.
“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,” Takeuchi said. “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.”
The AMPTP also issued a statement in response to the ratification of the WGA’s new contract.
“The AMPTP member companies congratulate the WGA on the ratification of its new contract, which represents meaningful gains and protections for writers,” the statement read. “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 and 2008, 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.