July 25, 2024

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The Hollywood Writers Guild ends its strike before the final vote on the contract

The Hollywood Writers Guild ends its strike before the final vote on the contract

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Hollywood Writers Guild said its members may return to work on Wednesday while they decide whether to agree to a three-year deal that provides for pay increases and some protections over the use of artificial intelligence, among other gains.

The leadership of the Writers Guild of America voted unanimously to end the strike on Wednesday, the union said in a statement. The 11,500 members have until October 9 to cast their votes on the proposed contract.

The estimated value of the deal is $233 million annually, the WGA said.

Film and TV writers walked away from their jobs in May after failing to reach a deal with major studios, including Netflix (NFLX.O), Walt Disney (DIS.N) and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD.O).

Writers appear to have received concessions across the board, with raises over the three years of the contract, increased contributions to health and pensions, and AI guarantees.

Under the agreement, the studios agreed to meet at least twice a year with the guild to discuss plans to use artificial intelligence in film development and production.

Studios are not explicitly prohibited from using AI to create content. However, writers have the right to sue if their work is used to train artificial intelligence.

Writers can choose to use AI when crafting scripts, but the company cannot require the use of the software. Studios must also disclose to the writer whether any material has been generated by artificial intelligence.

The photo of the iconic Hollywood sign was taken the day after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced it had reached a preliminary working agreement with major studios in Los Angeles, California, US, on September 25, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzoni/File Photo Obtaining licensing rights

Elsewhere, the union said it had been guaranteed minimum staffing in writers’ rooms, a major issue for many of its members. The cast will be determined by the number of episodes in each season. The minimum wage will rise by more than 12% over three years.

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Also, credits will increase for using TV shows and movies outside the US and a bonus will be given to the most popular shows on streaming.

“These are the basic protections that companies told us, to our faces, that they would never give us,” writer Adam Conover, a member of the union’s bargaining committee, posted on the social media platform X.

“But because of our solidarity, because they literally couldn’t make a dollar without us, they bent down and broke, and gave us what we deserved. We won,” Conover said.

Television writer David Slack said: “Our strike was necessary. Our strike was effective. Our strike was a victory.”

The end of the strike means daytime and late-night talk shows can return to the air. Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time,” said on social media that he would return with new episodes starting Friday.

“My writers and Real Time are back!” Maher wrote.

Maher and Drew Barrymore angered writers when they said this month that their talk shows would return before the strike ended.

The end of the WGA strike does not return Hollywood to normal. The actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, stopped working in July and is still on strike.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Don Chmielewski; Preparing by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Jimmy Freed, Leslie Adler and Jerry Doyle

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