Inside the WGA and AMPTP collective bargaining agreement
Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that ends the 148-day strike. The terms of the tentative deal have been set out in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) dated September 25, 2023.
According to an announcement sent to members by the WGA negotiating committee, the new collective bargaining agreement that has been tentatively approved between the WGA and AMPTP contains “meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership” and contemplates improvements to wages, streaming residuals, creative rights and increased health and pension contributions, while addressing other issues such as the use of artificial intelligence.
Writers can return to work as of September 27, 2023.
Some of the key terms of the tentative agreement as set forth in the MOA include:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI). Regulations surrounding the use of generative AI in the creative process, including the ability for the WGA to challenge the use of writers’ existing work to train AI software programs.
- Minimums increases. Increase of 5 percent of most minimums upon on ratification of the new MBA, 4 percent starting on May 2, 2024 and 3.5 percent on May 2, 2025.
- Increased health and pension contribution rate. An increase from 11.5 percent to 12 percent of contributions to the Writers Guild-Industry Health Fund, as of May 2, 2024. The WGA will have the ability to increase contributions by 0.5 percent to either the Writers Guild-Industry Health Fund or Pension Plan in both 2024 and 2025.
- Improved terms for screenwriter employment. A guaranteed second step for writers of theatrical screenplays hired to write a first draft who are paid 200 percent of minimum or less. The requirement also applies to spec purchases.
- Viewership-based streaming bonus. A bonus equal to 50 percent of the fixed domestic and foreign residual shall be payable to credited writers on high budget made-for streaming series and films that are viewed by 20 percent or more of a service’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of release, or in the first 90 days in any subsequent exhibition year, with views calculated as hours streamed domestically of the season or film divided by runtime.
- For example, projects written under the new MBA on the largest streaming services would receive a bonus of $9,031 for a half-hour episode, $16,415 for a one-hour episode, or $40,500 for a streaming feature over $30 million in budget.
- Streaming data transparency. AMPTP member companies will provide the WGA, subject to a confidentiality agreement, the total number of hours streamed, both domestically and internationally, of self-produced high budget streaming programs (eg, a streaming original series). This information may be shared with the membership in aggregated form.
- Increased compensation for series employment: weekly pay and staff writer script fees. An increase of 5 percent in the weekly rate of staff writers in addition to script fees.
- Staffing and duration provisions for episodic series. At least three writer-producers (members who are more senior) must be hired on most series and the number of additional members required will increase depending on the number of episodes ordered. Television staffing requirements do not apply when a single writer or team of writers is employed to write all episodes.
Guardrails around AI
The tentative agreement implements guardrails to regulate AI. AMPTP member companies agree that AI cannot be considered a “writer” or “professional writer” as defined in the MBA, and any written material produced by such AI is not literary material.
WGA members may choose to use AI when performing writing services, provided the employing AMPTP member company consents and the writer follows the company’s applicable policies, though AMPTP member companies cannot require writers to use AI software. AI cannot write or rewrite literary material and AI-generated material will not be considered source material, meaning it cannot be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights.
AMPTP member companies must disclose to writers if any materials given to them have been generated by AI or incorporate AI-generated material. The writers have also reserved the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by the MBA or other law.
However, the WGA and AMPTP reserved their rights relating to AI as it remains an “uncertain and rapidly developing” part of the legal landscape. The parties agreed to meet at least semi-annually at the WGA’s request to discuss and review information related to the use of AI.
Next up: Ratification vote
The tentative agreement will be sent to a ratification vote by the WGA members, which will take place from October 2 to October 9.
The WGA deal comes as SAG-AFTRA, which represents film and TV actors, has yet to conclude its new agreement with the AMPTP.
Learn more about the implications of the collective bargaining agreement, as well as the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, by contacting any of the authors.
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