Hollywood writers union ratifies three-year labor contract after strike

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) approved a new three-year contract with major studios on Monday, five months after the union called a strike that plunged Hollywood’s film and television production into turmoil.

The WGA said 99% of the roughly 8,500 votes supported the deal, which provides pay raises, some protections around use of artificial intelligence and other gains.

“Together we were able to accomplish what many said was impossible only six months ago,” WGA West President Meredith Stiehm said in a statement.

The vote does not end labor tensions in Hollywood. Members of the SAG-AFTRA actors union walked off the job in July and were meeting studio negotiators again on Monday to try to reach an agreement.

The multi-month strikes in the entertainment industry represent one of the most visible of renewed labor challenges across the United States this year at companies ranging from UPS to Detroit auto makers.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Walt Disney, Netflix and other media companies, said the contract “represents meaningful gains and protections for writers.”

“It is important progress for our industry that writers are back to work,” the group said in a statement.

Writers walked off the job on May 2, forcing many film and TV sets to shut down and delaying shows meant for the fall broadcast season.

The scribes went back to work on Sept. 27 after negotiators reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP.

Late-night talk shows such as “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Real Time with Bill Maher” have returned with new episodes, and comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live” will come back this weekend. But many film and TV productions remain in limbo with actors still on strike.

Performers also are seeking increases in pay and AI protections, plus other improvements to working conditions. Negotiators for the SAG-AFTRA actors union continued contract talks with studios on Monday.

SAG-AFTRA, Hollywood’s largest union and the studios will meet again on Wednesday, Oct. 11, the parties said in a statement on Monday.

“Now it’s time for the AMPTP to put the rest of the town back to work by negotiating a fair contract with our SAG-AFTRA siblings,” said WGA East President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.

The dual strikes have cost the California economy close to $6 billion in lost output, according to a Milken Institute estimate, and left many crew members struggling financially.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine;Additional reporting by Urvi Dugar in BegaluruEditing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)