The writers have officially ratified the deal with the studio.
This afternoon, the WGA membership ratified its contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
After a week of voting, a majority of WGA members voted in favor of approving a three-year minimum base contract. About 8,525 valid votes, or “99% of WGA members,” were cast by the 11,000-strong Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East members, the Guild now noted.
“There were 8,435 ‘yes’ votes and 90 ‘no’ votes,” the guild announced in an email to members.
The now-sealed deal runs from September 25, 2023 to May 31, 2026, with major improvements for writers in terms of AI janitors, residuals, writers’ room staff and data transparency and pay raises.
Monday’s widely expected strong approval decision comes nearly two weeks after the two sides reached a tentative agreement on September 24, ending a 148-day strike, the second-longest since the 1988 writers’ strike. The results come the same day the still-striking SAG-AFTRA began its second week of renewed negotiations with the AMPTP. Side by side with the WGA for much of the summer, the 160,000-strong actors’ union went on strike in mid-July.
The WGA held its first strike in 15 years on May 2 as its last contract with studios and streamers expired. Picket lines grew in NYC and LA and elsewhere in the USA, but neither side officially spoke for more than 100 days.
Since September 20, after a studio reboot 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 and David Goodman and former chairman David Goodold. Chris Keyser and other members of the WGA negotiating team are hoping for a breakthrough.
On September 26, two days after that landmark agreement was reached, both the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council unanimously recommended the agreement to their membership and sent it to a vote. At the same time, WGAW President Meredith Stiehm and WGAE President Lisa Takeuchi told members that they “strongly support this proposed agreement and encourage you to vote for its approval.”
Today both Stiehm and Takeuchi are praising the great commissioners for awarding the contract.
“Through unity and commitment, we have adopted an agreement with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of our combined membership,” the WGAW president said after the vote count was made public. “Together we were able to accomplish what many said was impossible just six months ago. We were able to reach this industry-changing agreement without WGA Chief Negotiator Ellen Stutzman, Negotiating Committee Co-Chairs Chris Keyser and David A. Goodman, the entire WGA Negotiating Committee, strike leaders, lot coordinators and support staff. could not have been achieved. Every part of the negotiation and strike.”
“It’s time for AMPTP to put the rest of the city back to work by negotiating a fair contract with our SAG-AFTRA siblings who have supported the writers throughout our negotiations,” the WGAE president said. “Until the studios reach an agreement that addresses artists’ needs, WGA members will remain on the picket line, walking side by side with SAG-AFTRA in solidarity.”
In their own statement, the AMPTP led by Carole Lombardini took a more measured response to today’s ratification vote. “AMPTP member companies congratulate the WGA on its approval of its new contract, which represents meaningful gains and protections for writers,” the studio and streamers’ representative group said. “Getting writers back to work is an important step forward for our industry.”
WGA members across the country received their endorsement ballots and support materials by email on October 2. Voting was held until 1 p.m. today, and the guild held a question-and-answer session at noon at its Fairfax and 3rd avenue headquarters. We hear that the session was rarely attended. There was a small turnout due to a substantial turnout by Writers Guild members earlier last week.
The last time writers were on strike – in 2007/08 – the next contract was approved by 93.6% with 4,060 votes.
Writers have already returned to work as the West Coast Board and East Coast Council lifted the moratorium, ending the long strike as of 12:01 a.m. PT on September 27. While the actors are on strike, with the support of many WGA members, there is hope that things are moving smoothly with talks resuming today after negotiations last week.
Several shows have opened their writers’ rooms over the past week as broadcast networks, cables and streaming services look to quickly restock their slates as SAG-AFTRA continues to seek their own deal with studios and streamers currently in negotiations. Celebrity guests are even fewer. Saturday Night Live It is set to start its 49th season on October 14.
There was no picketing today by SAG-AFTRA or its affiliates over the Aboriginal Peoples Day holiday.