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Writers reach tentative deal with studios to end strike after nearly 150 days

Irfan Khan | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
  • Hollywood scribes initiated a work stoppage in early May as negotiations broke down with studios including Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. Discovery.
  • Talks between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers resumed last week after months of starts and stops.
  • The WGA and AMPTP are still drafting the final contract language.

Hollywood's writers and studios have a preliminary labor agreement.

Talks between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers resumed last week after months of starts and stops, ultimately leading to a tentative deal that would end the ongoing writers strike.

The WGA and AMPTP are still drafting the final contract language.

"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," the WGA negotiation committee wrote in a letter to members Sunday night. "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."

Hollywood scribes initiated a work stoppage in early May as negotiations broke down with studios including Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. Discovery. Television and film writers sought protections against the use of artificial intelligence, in addition to increases in compensation for streamed content.

The WGA did not disclose what provisions ultimately made it into the preliminary contract, but told union members that "this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership."

Once the WGA and AMPTP agree on the language within the contract, the negotiating committee will vote on whether to recommend the agreement and send it to the Writers Guild of America West Board and the Writers Guild of America East Council for approval. Then, the board and council will vote on whether to authorize a contract ratification vote by membership.

WGA leadership noted that the strike is not over and no members of the guild are to return to work until the agreement is officially ratified. Members were encouraged to continue standing in solidarity with striking actors on the picket lines.

President Joe Biden, who often touts his pro-union stances, cheered the agreement as he prepares to head to a United Auto Workers' picket line Tuesday in Michigan.

"This agreement, including assurances related to artificial intelligence, did not come easily," Biden said in a statement released by the White House on Monday. "But its formation is a testament to the power of collective bargaining. There simply is no substitute for employers and employees coming together to negotiate in good faith toward an agreement that makes a business stronger and secures the pay, benefits, and dignity that workers deserve."

Following negotiations with writers, the AMPTP will need to turn its attention to SAG-AFTRA. The acting guild's members have been on strike since mid-July and are seeking contract updates similar to those requested by the writers.

Hollywood performers are looking to improve wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits, as well as establish guardrails for the use of AI in future television and film productions. Additionally, the union is seeking more transparency from streaming services about viewership so that residual payments can be made equitable to linear TV.

"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," the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists wrote in a statement Sunday. "While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP's tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members."

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is a member of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

–CNBC's Emma Kinery contributed to this article.

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