It’s officially over: after 148 days, the WGA strike of 2023 ended at 12:01am PST September 27, following a vote from Writers Guild of America leadership authorizing members to go back to work.
“The WGA reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP. Today, our Negotiating Committee, WGAW Board, and WGAE Council all voted unanimously to recommend the agreement,” read a statement released on social media Tuesday evening. “The strike ends at 12:01am.” The statement was accompanied by the first public release of information about the new agreement between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which revealed that writers received a great many of the subjects they were asking for when negotiations broke down back in May.
Amongst those wins were increased minimum pay, increased health and pension contributions, better terms for streaming residual payments and more transparency from streaming platforms about viewership numbers, agreement on a minimum for writing room staffing numbers, and a number of limitations on the use of artificial intelligence on future projects, including an outright ban on AI being used to write or rewrite source material.
Although the strike has ended and writers are now able to return to work, this doesn’t actually mean that the new agreement, which will last for the next three years, has been officially accepted by the WGA just yet; that happens after a vote from WGA members which takes place between October 2 and October 9.
The first obvious sign of the return to work for audiences is likely to be a return of talk shows and variety shows to television; it’s been speculated that such shows might be able to return as quickly as the first couple of weeks of October. Production on scripted television and movies will remain stopped, as SAG-AFTRA’s strike action affecting actors remains in effect. (Indeed, the organization voted just this week to strike in regards to members’ work on video games, as well.) It’s also possible, if not outright likely, that writers might start returning to convention appearances, as well.
At 148 days, the 2023 WGA strike was the second longest strike action by the organization. In 1988, the WGA was on strike for 154 days.
Even as the WGA goes back to work, is it time for comic creators to finally work together for a better industry?