The first potentially catastrophic labour strike which has hung over the Hollywood film industry for over a year now has been averted. In a press conference called for Friday afternoon, the Writers Guild Of America (WGA) said that it had reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers (AMPTP) and the three TV networks for a new three-year contract covering 11,000 theatrical and TV writers.
The negotiations, which had broken off earlier in the year and looked almost certain to end in a damaging strike, had continued after the expiration of the existing contract last Tuesday night, the first indication that an agreeement was near.
Overall in the economic package, writers will gain an estimated $41m over the three-year term of the contract (less than the $100m initially being demanded by WGA president John Wells, who was unable to attend the press conference since his wife had just given birth).
"Almost four months ago we entered into negotiations with the goal of securing a contract that would achieve increased respect for writers by successfully addressing their major economic and creative issues," said Michael Mahern, co-chair of the WGA's negotiating committee. "People told us it couldn't be done even if we stayed on strike for a year or more. Today, we are announcing an agreement that includes ground-breaking improvements and it has been accomplished without a strike."
However, for the contentious creative issues of possessory credit, no solution was reached. "To avoid a strike in which our entire community would have suffered, it was agreed that we would address this issue, as well as the proliferation of producer credits and other credits issues, in industry-wide discussions," said Mahern. "The Writers Guild and the Directors Guild have agreed to foster writer-director collaboration in both film and television, including: hosting joint seminars in which collaborators discuss their working relationships and highlighting collaboration in our respective publications."
New elements in the agreement include:
The WGA will now bring the new contract to its members on both coasts and seek its ratification. As for actors, they start negotiations this Thursday (May 10) for a new contract addressing some similar and some other issues for their new contract which expires on June 30.