The Writers Guild of America (WGA), the union of film and television writers in the United States, announced that its members can return to work on Wednesday. This ends a nearly five-month strike, which has caused multi-billion economic losses in California alone.
A large part of the book’s wishes have been met. The studios’ offer includes a gradual pay rise over the three years of the contract, better healthcare and pension arrangements and clear agreements on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the business. For example, under the new contract, writers can now choose to use AI when crafting scripts, but the studio cannot request the use of the software.
Screenwriters have been on strike since the beginning of May, partly because they want more royalties and have demanded better rules for using artificial intelligence in creating scripts for films and series. Negotiations were halted for several months. The studios and streaming services, united in the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), made a “final offer” for a new three-year contract on Saturday, shortly after talks resumed.
Following a positive recommendation from the negotiating committee, the WGA Board of Directors approved the proposal on Tuesday (local time). The council also voted unanimously to temporarily halt the strike. It cannot start again unless union members vote against the new contract next week, which is not expected.
The screenwriters received support from 160,000 members of the actors union SAG-AFTRA in early July. They were also not satisfied with the terms presented in the new contract with AMPTP. The simultaneous strikes put additional pressure on studios and streaming services. Much of the production in the United States has stopped. Actors also stopped coming to promote films and series that had already been completed, which meant that a large number of films that were scheduled to be released this year were postponed until last year.
It is estimated that the two unions’ strike caused economic damage worth $5 billion (4.7 billion euros) in California alone.
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