WGA and AMPTP Reach a Tentative Deal: What Does This Mean for Below-The-Line Workers?

Posted on: Sep 25, 2023

WGA LAPhoto Credit: Alex Millauer // Shutterstock

By Steffanie Bradley

After weeks of intense negotiations, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a tentative agreement last night that is pending final contract language. The three-year agreement includes higher pay rates for writers, greater job security and increased contributions to the guild’s health plan.

While the agreement is primarily focused on writers, it will also have a significant impact on below-the-line workers in TV and film production. Below-the-line workers, including everything from camera operators to makeup artists, have been affected by the WGA’s strike authorization and are left without work when it occurs. The SAG-AFTRA strike is still ongoing and until actors can fully return to work, most productions will not be able to start back up. According to sources the guild had requested members of the WGA not return to work until the SAG-AFTRA strike is resolved, keeping the guilds in solidarity with one another.

Once both strikes are officially resolved pre-production can begin with production offices and writer’s rooms returning to work in addition to below-the-line workers on productions once locations and sound stages are able to secure and get back to filming. Unscripted productions such as talk shows may be back as soon as next week, as their productions do not fully rely on members of SAG-AFTRA in order to operate.

Writers and production workers for late night talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and syndicated daytime talk shows like The Drew Barrymore Show, The Talk, and The Jennifer Hudson Show are likely to return on a similar timeline. Guests for these shows will have to exclude SAG-AFTRA until the strike is resolved, unless a member is promoting something unrelated to acting. One example of recent morning show guests who falls into the category of a SAG-AFTRA member but is not promoting film or television is Matthew McConaughey, who has been on a press junket for his children’s book Just Because. We could see similar guests return to talk shows in the coming weeks. Below-the-line crew for all other productions involving actors remains on hold until SAG-AFTRA reaches an agreement with the AMPTP.

One of the WGA deal points reached was the increased contributions to the guild’s health plan. This will be a boon for below-the-line workers, who often work on project-to-project basis and struggle to obtain health insurance. The proposed increased contributions will provide a much-needed safety net for these workers and their families.

The WGA and AMPTP reaching a tentative deal is a positive development for the TV and film industry. Once the contract is drafted and members vote on agreement to deal terms, it will end the longest WGA strike to date.

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