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Writer’s Guild, Studios Near Agreement to End 143 Day-Long Strike

Both sides end talks on Thursday closer to a deal than ever before

By Evan Symon, September 22, 2023 2:30 am

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) continued the second day of talks on Thursday at the AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, with sources close to the negotiations saying that both sides are continuing to near an agreement.

The WGA strike, which started on May 2nd and has lasted 143 days, has been at a standstill with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for months. The WGA, as well as SAG-AFTRA in their own strike, have been pulling for better residual fees for streaming service programs, better overall pay, a minimum number of writers on writing staff to ensure continued employment, and strict regulation on the use of artificial intelligence.

Since May, both sides have only formally met a few times, including last month when talks broke down due to neither side willing to move forward on the remaining issues. However, September brought new challenges to both sides, with studios reporting economic losses going into the billions and more and more WGA strikers facing financial hardships, with many beginning to be evicted. Talks began again on Wednesday, with both sides later releasing a joint press statement saying that much progress had been made.

However, talks on Thursday, while close, began to take on a more serious note. While many were hoping for a deal on Thursday, many insiders noted that  if no agreement was reached soon, the strike would likely continue until the end of the year.

WGA and AMPTP representatives met once again in Sherman Oaks  on Thursday with Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, Disney CEO Bob Iger, Universal Chairwoman Donna Langley, and Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav all being a part of the negotiations. All four have expressed a willingness to end the strike, as have those in the WGA leadership.

However, no agreement was made on Thursday, despite both sides getting closer to an agreement. California Governor Gavin Newsom reportedly called both sides today, but only did so to check in on how the negotiations were going and not taking an official part. According to insiders, the strike could be settled as soon as tomorrow, although the process would likely continue over the weekend and the  Yom Kippur holiday on Monday.

As of Thursday, no immediate talks are scheduled as both sides go over the discussions that occurred over the last few days. However, even if an agreement is reached, the WGA would likely remain on strike for another few weeks before an agreement is formally ratified by members.

“This is the closest both sides have come yet,” said Theresa Stevenson, an arbitrator in Michigan who has helped settled union disputes and strikes in the past. “Usually, when negotiations reach this point, an agreement will be made soon after. I have seen some deals being brought to the leadership not in the room and it all be taken immediately back before. But in this case, both sides really just want this to end as soon as possible, and from the sound of it, it looks like neither side is getting fully what they want, which is always the sign of a successful negotiation.

“Maybe Friday, maybe during the weekend but definitely by Tuesday we’ll know for sure if the strike is over. Based on the timeline and when a new agreement is ratified, we could see this strike set the record for longest strike. I mean, it started in early May and it is now officially autumn. That is crazy-long for an entertainment strike. And who knows what 2026 will bring if there is an agreement, as they are currently negotiating over a three year deal.”

An announcement by the WGA and AMPTP may come as soon as Friday on the current state of the strike.

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