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Writers union votes to ratify contract, ending one of Hollywood's longest strikes

A WGA support sign rests near SAG-AFTRA members picketing outside Warner Bros. Studio as the actors strike continues on September 26, 2023 in Burbank, California.
Mario Tama
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A WGA support sign rests near SAG-AFTRA members picketing outside Warner Bros. Studio as the actors strike continues on September 26, 2023 in Burbank, California.

The union representing thousands of Hollywood writers has ratified a contract with major production studios, putting an official end to a months-long labor dispute that brought much of the entertainment industry to a halt.

In a statement posted to the union's website Monday, leaders from the Writers Guild of America said 99% of its members voted in favor of approving the new contract.

The deal, which runs through May 1, 2026, gives writers salary increases, boosts contributions to health and pension funds, and establishes guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence.

Members of the WGA ended their strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, on September 27. The strike stalled the production of films and television shows for nearly five months.

Late night television programs quickly rushed back to production and began airing new episodes the following weekend.

John Oliver, host of HBO's Last Week Tonight, told NPR he was relieved the contract dispute was ending — and that work on shows like his require a full staff.

"It's a hugely collaborative experience, which is why when you take one component out of that machine, it's frustrating, because you think the whole thing only works if everyone is pulling in the same direction," Oliver told NPR's All Things Considered on Friday.

But production on other television programs and films remains on hold, as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or SAG-AFTRA, continues to strike while its own negotiations with the AMPTP remain ongoing.

While celebrating their contract win, leaders from WGA made note of the actors' strike against Hollywood studios, which began in July.

"As our negotiations come to an end, we won't forget our SAG-AFTRA siblings who have supported writers every step of the way," said WGA West president Meredith Stiehm and WGA East president Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.

"We call upon the AMPTP to negotiate a deal that addresses the needs of performers and, until they do, we ask WGA members who can to continue to show up on their picket lines in solidarity."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: October 9, 2023 at 11:00 PM CDT
Many NPR newsroom staff are members of SAG-AFTRA but are not part of the bargaining unit that is striking.
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Dave Mistich
Originally from Washington, W.Va., Dave Mistich joined NPR part-time as an associate producer for the Newcast unit in September 2019 — after nearly a decade of filing stories for the network as a Member station reporter at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. In July 2021, he also joined the Newsdesk as a part-time reporter.