After four days of marathon negotiations, the Writers Guild of America could reach a deal with major film and television studios as early as Sunday, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
A tentative agreement would still need to be ratified by members of the WGA, which represents more than 11,000 writers. But if passed, a deal would mark the end of a nearly five-month-long strike, the second-longest in the union’s history. The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the trade association representing major Hollywood studios, had set an unofficial deadline of the Yom Kippur holiday to end the strike, according to Variety.
The actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, has also been on strike since mid-July. Both unions have similar sets of demands, including better wages, residuals payments from streaming services for their work, and job protections against the use of artificial intelligence. Many successful, award-winning writers say they have found themselves unable to make a living under the current industry structure. The growth of original content on streaming services has led to meager residuals. The platforms also tend to offer shorter seasons, reducing the amount of available work for writers.
Both Hollywood strikes have been drawn-out and costly, with the nationwide economic impact of more than $5 billion, according to economists. Industries like restaurants, service firms and prop shops have also felt the ripple effects from the ongoing disputes and have had to cut staffing as a result. In New York, disruption of 11 major productions resulted in a loss of $1.3 billion and 17,000 jobs, according to Empire State Development.
Even if the WGA reaches a deal, the Hollywood machine cannot start churning again until the the alliance resolves its dispute with SAG-AFTRA, which represents about 160,000 actors.
The potential WGA deal could also increase pressure on SAG-AFTRA to settle for an agreement along the same lines, as the two unions have seemed to operate in lockstep with each other throughout their respective strikes.
The strikes are part of a larger pattern of labor disputes that have taken the country by storm. Thousands of workers ranging from nurses and sanitation workers to UPS workers and Starbucks baristas walked off the job in recent months. Most prominently, the United Auto Workers Union called a strike against the three largest automakers in the country.
The “summer of strikes” and the resurgence of more aggressive tactics to ensure equitable pay come after years of lower- and middle-income workers have argued against stagnant wages, poor working conditions and widening inequality.
This report has been updated with additional information