Strikes End as WGA and SAG-AFTRA Win New Contracts with AMPTP

SAG-AFTRA members and supporters protesting in New York; July 17, 2023, in Union Square, New York. (Eden, Janine and Jim/flickr)

From May 2 to Sep. 26, 2023, the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) successfully secured a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) after 148 days on strike, allowing all writers to resume work.

WGA and AMPTP have negotiated a 94-page Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) that will last for three years. Outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) are payment increases, health contributions, improved terms and staffing minimums. 

The WGA has also secured protections against artificial intelligence (AI) in which AI cannot write or rewrite material, AI will not be considered a writer under the MBA and will not be credited as such, and AI usage cannot be required by companies. Companies must disclose to writers if given materials contain AI-generated content, and the exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited.

Similarly, from July 14 to Nov. 9, 2023, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have just recently struck a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after 118 days on strike.

SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP have negotiated a MOA with over 100 pages that will last for three years. Outlined in the MOA are payment increases, health contributions, protection against AI, equity and inclusion policies and sexual harassment policies. 

Compared to the WGA, the SAG-AFTRA protections against AI are seemingly more complex. Consent is required for the digital alteration of a performer in any form; however, some exceptions may be: (1) post-production editing for purposes of cosmetics, sound, timing, continuity, pitch, effects and filters, standards and practices, ratings, adjustment in dialogue or narration or other similar purposes; (2) audio dubbing or using a double if permitted under Codified Basic Agreement or Television Agreement; (3) facial or body adjusting, altering voice to a foreign language, or changing dialogue or imagery for licensing or selling.

Producers must notify and specify any nudity or sexual scenes that are expected of a performer before an audition or interview and no later than 48 hours in advance of call time. Producers are also encouraged to use an Intimacy Coordinator for nudity or simulated sex scenes and consider the use of an Intimacy Coordinator if requested by a performer for any scenes. All employees will be provided easy access to a company’s non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

Performers with disabilities can now request accessibility accommodations if the requests are reasonable. Protections for underage actors for auditions were also put in place. Producers may not request a performer of any age to appear nude or wear anything more revealing than a bathing suit appropriate for a public pool.

With many other policies put in place for income, benefits and such, the SAG-AFTRA and WGA have gained meaningful progress in the protections of their performers. This 3-year contract has sparked a new beginning for the writing and acting industry.

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