Picketing Is Suspended For Now, Contract Language To Be Finalized
By Dolores Quintana
Around 7:30 p.m. tonight, the Writers Guild of America West announced via its social media channels, after the rumblings began from writers and members of the WGA Negotiating Committee on Twitter that an announcement was imminent.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers finally agreed to come back to the negotiating table on Wednesday, September 20, after a month of refusing to negotiate. In July, an anonymous source had been quoted by Deadline that The AMPTP intended to stay away from negotiations until late October because “many writers would be financially strained to the point where they would lose their housing, which they believed would allow them to be in a better position to dictate the terms of any new deal.”
Indeed, Alex O’Keefe, writer on the hit show “The Bear,” recently tweeted on September 15 that he might have to leave Los Angeles, saying, “I’m on the verge of leaving LA. Can’t afford it anymore. AMPTP refuses to pay up and save Hollywood. Young writers are sacrificing EVERYTHING for this strike. We are not going to accept any deal that concedes our survival. It’s do or die.”
Still, the resolve of the writers did not bend.
The tweet from the WGA West account stipulated that the agreement was tentative and stated,” The WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement. This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings, who stood with us for over 146 days. More details coming after contract language is finalized.”
The letter to the Guild members sent soon after said, “What we have won in this contract – most particularly, everything we have gained since May 2nd is due to the willingness of this membership to exercise its power, to demonstrate its solidarity, to walk side-by-side, to endure the pain and uncertainty of the past 146 days. It is the leverage generated by your strike, in concert with the extraordinary support of our union siblings, that finally brought the companies back to the table to make a deal.
We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional, with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.”
The letter added, “Once the Memorandum of Agreement with the AMPTP is complete, the Negotiating Committee will vote on whether to recommend the agreement and send it on to the WGAW Board and WGAE Council for approval. The Board and Council will then vote on whether to authorize a contract ratification vote by the membership.
If that authorization is approved, the Board and Council would also vote on whether to lift the restraining order and end the strike at a certain date and time (to be determined) pending ratification. This would allow writers to return to work during the ratification vote but would not affect the membership’s right to make a final determination on contract approval.
Immediately after those leadership votes, which are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday if the language is settled, we will provide a comprehensive summary of the deal points and the Memorandum of Agreement. We will also convene meetings where members will have the opportunity to learn more about and assess the deal before voting on ratification.”
Even though the contract is not yet final, the WGA has suspended picketing at the studios. As a gesture of solidarity, the letter suggested that writers in the guild join the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) picket lines, and many writers on social media agreed.
The guild email ended with the promise that their members would hear from them soon.
SAG-AFTRA released a statement upon confirmation of the tentative agreement, which said, “SAG-AFTRA congratulates the WGA on reaching a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after 146 days of incredible strength, resiliency, and solidarity on the picket lines. While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members.
Since the day the WGA strike began, SAG-AFTRA members have stood alongside the writers on the picket lines. We remain on strike in our TV/Theatrical contract and continue to urge the studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand.”
Lindsay Dougherty, Motion Picture & Theatrical Trade Division Director Teamsters Local 399 Principal Officer also issued a statement via social media which said, “After 146 days on strike, Motion Picture Teamsters want to congratulate the Writers Guild of America West and East on their fight, tenacity and resolve to achieve a tentative agreement.
Since day one, the militancy of the writers holding the line and hitting the pavement exemplified their unwavering commitment to their core issues. Their fight has also inspired a renewed solidarity among all Hollywood workers that will live on long past this bargaining cycle.
Solidarity, however, does not come without sacrifice. The antiquated bargaining playbook of the AMPTP caused these negotiations to be intentionally dragged on longer than necessary. Their tactics have left many questioning the function, effectiveness, and longevity of this multi-employer bargaining entity.
While we commend and continue to stand in solidarity with the writers, we call upon the AMPTP to take no pause for a victory lap. With our brothers and sisters of SAG-AFTRA still on strike and an industry at a complete standstill for over 5 months, workers deserve to see the employers swiftly return to the table to make good on their proclaimed commitment to bring Hollywood back to life.”