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HomeMoviesChief WGA negotiator weighs in on tentative union deal : NPR

Chief WGA negotiator weighs in on tentative union deal : NPR


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NPR’s Ailsa Chang talks with Chief Negotiator for the Author’s Guild of America, Ellen Stutzman, in regards to the tentative deal struck between the union and the most important manufacturing studios.


At 12:01 this morning, TV and film writers have been free to get again to work after virtually 5 months on strike. Union leaders on the Writers Guild of America have reached a tentative take care of studios. It contains bumps in pay, restrictions on using synthetic intelligence and minimal staffing for TV writers’ rooms. Now it is as much as the writers themselves to ratify the contract within the coming days. And to listen to extra about what’s on this deal, we now have Ellen Stutzman on the road. She’s the chief negotiator for the WGA. And we should always word, earlier than turning to her, we did ask to interview a studio head or a consultant from the Alliance of Movement Image and Tv Producers, however, thus far, they’ve declined. So we now have Ellen Stutzman. Welcome.

ELLEN STUTZMAN: Hello. Thanks.

CHANG: Thanks. All proper, so high query for you, Ellen – hundreds of individuals went with out pay for 5 months. Give me one factor on this deal that you simply assume made all of that value it.

STUTZMAN: Properly, the reality is, there are such a lot of issues as a result of what this membership managed to do was negotiate an distinctive contract that addresses points throughout our membership. And I will simply point out them briefly for screenwriters, for tv writers, for our comedy selection writers as they transfer their work to streaming. We obtained a breakthrough settlement on a cost for achievement in streaming for unique packages – one thing the businesses mentioned they might by no means do. We additionally obtained knowledge transparency – so all that intently held details about how nicely reveals do will likely be supplied to the Guild. And, after all, a priority throughout all writers was synthetic intelligence.

CHANG: Proper. OK.

STUTZMAN: And we have been in a position to…

CHANG: And we’ll discuss a little bit extra about a few of these points, however are you able to simply inform me – what was the turning level in these negotiations that made this deal lastly come collectively after a number of months?

STUTZMAN: Properly, I believe – and there was a suggestion in July that maybe the businesses’ technique was to starve us out till folks began to lose their properties. And at a sure level, it appeared like the businesses have been going to attend so long as potential. But it surely seems that they could not maintain out as a result of they want content material. And naturally, I will simply say that Display screen Actors Guild becoming a member of writers on strike in July had a giant impact. With two unions on strike, it was simply no denying that this business needed to do issues to handle the actual, reliable considerations that writers have been dealing with. And now they must do it with actors.

CHANG: OK. Properly, I need to ask about one of many wins that you simply talked about. These are – that is larger transparency in viewership knowledge on streaming platforms. Studios say that they will even pay bonuses, I perceive, if reveals are profitable. What did the writers say to make the studios lastly comply with that? ‘Trigger that was one thing that you simply had lengthy argued for.

STUTZMAN: Sure. Properly, the reality is, some issues are unimaginable to achieve with no strike, and I consider that’s one in all them. It is a problem that each actors and writers had proposals for and that the businesses completely refused to interact with earlier than we went on strike. However with two unions out on strike on the identical situation and unwilling to return again to work with no deal that addressed that, I believe they lastly understood they must do one thing. It is extremely necessary. Writers and actors and administrators have at all times shared within the success of their work, and so they’ve been lower out of that on streaming. And that is going to vary now.

CHANG: OK, so what harm right here, Ellen? What concessions did the Writers Guild must make to get the studios to seal this deal?

STUTZMAN: Properly, I believe what harm is the period of time it took and the way the sacrifice that writers made is a sacrifice that each one Hollywood staff needed to make as a result of all the business was shut down. And so I believe everybody feels how painful an virtually five-month strike is. And that is why writers did a lot to boost cash and assist extra than simply writers, however everybody affected. And in order that’s essentially the most painful factor.

CHANG: Properly, I do know that one of many sticking factors was additionally in regards to the dimension of writers’ rooms. The Writers Guild had initially requested for at least six writers for sure rooms. This deal calls for at least three. Are you proud of the place you landed on that?

STUTZMAN: Sure. We offered, you already know, opening proposal numbers that we at all times anticipated to barter off of, and we have ended up with three ranges of staffing based mostly on the episode order. So actually, in the commonest rooms, there will be a minimal of 5 – in fact, six or fewer episodes. There aren’t that lots of these reveals. So we’re very pleased. It is a minimal degree. We have preserved the writers’ room, which is key to writers who work in tv, and it is only a minimal.

CHANG: OK. I additionally need to contact upon synthetic intelligence. This deal contains pointers on using AI. Very briefly, what does this contract assure to writers on that entrance?

STUTZMAN: It ensures to writers that synthetic intelligence is not going to be used to exchange them. It will probably’t rewrite them. It would not have an effect on their credit, and it would not have an effect on their compensation. So it is some form of analysis materials that may be given to a author, however they’re the one writing the script, and so they would be the one paid and credited for it.

CHANG: OK. However on that, I do know that there’s a group of distinguished authors who’re suing OpenAI proper now, accusing the corporate of copyright infringement on the subject of utilizing the authors’ books to coach its chatbot, ChatGPT. Does your deal give screenwriters protections in opposition to that form of factor?

STUTZMAN: Properly, screenwriters on this enterprise – the businesses personal the copyright. And so we’re aligned with the businesses, primarily, and take the identical place as these authors, which is that ChatGPT didn’t have the proper to take these books or the scripts written by our members and now revenue off of them. And in order that’s one thing the Guild will pursue on a coverage foundation.

CHANG: All proper. So this ratification course of begins subsequent week. What occurs if the writers are in some way not on board with the contract?

STUTZMAN: Properly, the reality is – and judging from the response each Sunday night time and yesterday, after we launched the deal factors – writers are ecstatic about this settlement. It is one thing that they gained via their collective energy, and I believe we’ll see an amazing vote in assist of it.

CHANG: That’s Ellen Stutzman, chief negotiator for the Writers Guild of America. Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us at this time.

STUTZMAN: Thanks for having me.

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for additional info.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content might not be in its last kind and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might differ. The authoritative document of NPR’s programming is the audio document.


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