By Lucy Verlaque
Elm Staff Writer
On Wednesday, Sept. 27, the Writers Guild of America ended their five-month long strike.
According to previous Elm coverage, the strike originally began on May 2 due to entertainment industry writers’ dissatisfaction with low compensation for their work and poor treatment from production studios.
Negotiations between WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the association that represents production companies, failed to result in satisfactory agreements on new contract stipulations.
On July 13, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists joined WGA on the picket line to protest similar work conditions they faced.
For months, tensions between writers and studios were high. According to Deadline, one unnamed studio executive felt determined to “break the WGA,” while another hoped for “things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
Despite tensions, bargaining between WGA and AMPTP continued and eventually led to a breakthrough.
On Sept. 24, the WGA Negotiating Committee announced that WGA and AMPTP had reached a “tentative agreement” regarding plans for a new contract. Though members were not yet authorized to resume work, the union paused picketing while contract details were finalized.
According to CNN, planned details for the new contract included “pay increases, better benefits, protections against the studios’ use of artificial intelligence, guarantees for streaming compensation, longer-duration employment terms, and other perks.”
Three days later, WGA allowed members to return to work, effectively putting an end to the strike. As the final contract had still not yet been ratified, members were able to vote on its approval starting on Oct. 2.
After voting closed on Oct. 9, it was revealed that WGA overwhelmingly supported the new contract. According to Variety, “The membership voted 99% in favor of ratification, with 8,435 voting yes and 90 members opposed.”
Despite WGA’s success, SAG-AFTRA has not come to any contract agreements with AMPTP, and they remain on strike.
On Oct. 2, WGA released a statement of support for the union, calling for “AMPTP and its member companies to negotiate the fair deal that members of SAG-AFTRA need and deserve.” WGA also encouraged members to join the actors on the picket line to show their solidarity.
With one union still striking, it is unclear how work in the entertainment industry will proceed.
For writers, the adjustment from five months on strike to returning to work is another consideration.
Writer and director Jonterri Gadson, who visited Washington College to speak at the Rose O’Neill Literary House on Oct. 3 and 4, said she was “heavily impacted” by the WGA strike.
According to Gadson, she was a strike captain and served as a “liaison” between the union and the writers’ room. Her responsibilities in this role included running picket lines and helping the thirty writers on her team find financial resources while they were out of work.
“It was a lot,” Gadson said. “It was my life for the last five months, from May 2 until Sept. 27.”
It also remains to be seen whether the months of conflict between writers and studios will have lasting ramifications within the industry.
“To be so blatantly devalued by these companies was very hard — to have them say, ‘we’re going to bleed them out until they lose their houses’ — they very well could have done that,” Gadson said. “But they need us.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo Caption: By the time the WGA strike ended on Sept. 27, the writers and actors were on the picket line for over 100 days.