We Have a Deal! Writers Strike Poised to End as WGA and Studios Reach a Tentative Agreement
It took 146 days and multiple marathon negotiating sessions attended by CEOs including Bob Iger and David Zaslav, but the Hollywood writers strike appears poised to end. On Sunday night, the Writers Guild of America said it had reached a tentative deal for a new contract, signaling that writers could soon pack up their picket signs and return to work after a nearly five-month walkout.
In an email to members, the WGA negotiating committee said they are still working to draft final contract language and that they would send more details soon. “We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional—with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” it reads. Once the contract is finalized, the negotiating committee will vote on whether to send it on to WGA leadership for approval. Then the guild’s more than 11,000 members will be asked to vote to ratify the deal.
Writers called their first strike in over a decade after walking away from contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on May 1. The guild framed the strike as the answer to an existential crisis facing writers, who had watched as streaming eroded the working conditions and pay structures that once propped up the industry. “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,” the WGA said in a statement announcing the work stoppage.
The strike, which began the next day, sent the industry into a tailspin. Late night shows like The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live immediately halted production; writers rooms for popular TV shows including Abbott Elementary and Yellowjackets disbanded; the screenwriter on Marvel’s upcoming Blade reboot stopped sending in drafts.
In mid-July, more than 160,000 actors and performers joined writers on the picket lines when their guild, SAG-AFTRA, also declared a strike. The first double strike in more than 60 years brought Hollywood to its knees, effectively ending all production that had continued during the writers work stoppage. Because of the labor action, the Television Academy postponed the Emmys, the studios moved release dates for high-profile movies including Dune: Part Two, and the broadcast networks stocked their fall TV schedules with reality shows, football, and reruns.
After a 92-day stalemate, the WGA and AMPTP resumed negotiations in August, but made little progress. A counteroffer from the AMPTP included concessions on some key issues, including AI protections, but the WGA said those weren’t “nearly enough.” Top CEOs attempted to meet with members of the guild, but the face-to-face didn’t go well either—and after the AMPTP publicly released its counteroffer, talks stalled.
Many industry insiders hoped to find a resolution to the strikes before Labor Day, a symbolic nadir in the ongoing fight because it’s when many top executives and creatives return from the Hamptons or the Mediterranean and expect to dig back into work. But the holiday weekend came and went without a deal.
The start of fall has brought with it a renewed determination on both sides to stop the strike. On Wednesday, September 20, the WGA and AMPTP met for the first time in nearly a month. Notably, sources tell Vanity Fair that leaders from four of the major studios were present for the meeting, a rarity during labor bargaining sessions. The leaders—Iger, Zaslav, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, and NBCUniversal Studio Group chairman Donna Langley—participated in a marathon sit-down with the hope of hammering out a workable deal, returning Thursday and Friday to continue negotiating. Ahead of the meeting, a studio-side source expressed optimism about reaching an agreement. “People are feeling the economic pressure and the realities of how long this has gone on. It’s impacting everyone, from the biggest corporations to the hairstylists to the restaurants. There’s a shared desire to get back to work,” the source added.
WGA members showed up in droves to the picket lines on Friday after a Thursday evening email from guild leaders thanked them for “all the messages of solidarity and support we have received the last few days” and requested “as many of you as possible to come out to the picket lines tomorrow.” Strike captains extended picketing outside many studios on Friday. The day ended without a deal, but negotiators agreed to meet again on Saturday and Sunday.
Reaching a deal is the hardest step in these negotiations, but the strike isn’t over quite yet. Though the WGA is suspending picketing—and encouraging writers to support SAG-AFTRA on the picket lines—the negotiating committee wrote in its member email, “No one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the Guild.”
The WGA must now finalize its contract. As soon as Tuesday, the leadership groups at both the East and West branches of the WGA will then vote to send the contract to members for ratification. At that time, leadership will also vote on whether to allow writers to return to work while the official ratification is pending. But even if the writers strike ends this week, Hollywood won’t be back to business as usual until the AMPTP hammers out a deal with SAG-AFTRA.