The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have closed an unspecified new deal that will avert the strike that could have begun Tuesday, May 2.
Firm details of the agreement are not yet available, but news of it slowly spread throughout the WGA membership early Tuesday morning.
It's official. We've got a tentative deal. #WGAunity— Bumptious Ms. B (@angelinaburnett) May 2, 2017
Okay. I have it from three sources. WE HAVE A DEAL. #WGAUNITY— David Slack (@slack2thefuture) May 2, 2017
The deal now goes to the leadership boards of both the WGA East and WGA West (the two separate groups that make up the larger WGA) for approval, then on to the membership at large for official ratification. Such approval is considered largely a foregone conclusion.
“I think they made a very good deal,” negotiation committee member Patric Verrone, a former WGA West president, told Deadline. “I think the membership is going to be very happy.”
Talks went on throughout all of Monday, May 1, and roughly an hour past the midnight Pacific deadline — when the writers’ current deal expired. Though several sources (notably Variety) reported that talks were frequently contentious throughout the day, the two sides seemed to move toward a deal fairly rapidly as the midnight deadline approached. The WGA membership had voted in record numbers to authorize a strike if their existing contract with the AMPTP expired without a new one in place. That strike would have begun Tuesday morning.
The writers were primarily hoping to gain more compensation for work on TV shows with short orders (usually of 10 episodes or less), as they are paid per episode. They were also looking to increase studio contributions to the WGA health care plan and for a bigger percentage of residuals from streaming programs. (You can read more about what the writers sought here and more about the health care plan’s woes here.) As per Deadline, both the health plan and compensation for writers on short-order shows factor heavily into the new deal.
The last WGA strike occurred in 2007 and largely shut down Hollywood for 100 days. Though a strike this year was considered unlikely, the talks going down to the wire did suggest the AMPTP (which represents studios, networks, production companies, and other producers) and the WGA had contentious moments throughout.
Next, the AMPTP will soon begin to try closing a deal with Hollywood’s largest union — SAG/AFTRA, which represents actors. That work agreement expires June 30.