After Marathon Session, Writers Guild Negotiations Conclude Friday Without Deal
For the third consecutive day this week, union negotiators and studio CEOs met across the bargaining table without finalizing a deal, but are expected to continue to meet on Saturday.
The Writers Guild of America met again with chief executives and studio and streamer negotiators on Friday in a marathon bargaining session that failed to produce a deal, though management-side insiders did claim that progress was being made.
Talks went well into the night on the third day that union negotiators met with a group of top company leaders including Disney’s Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos at the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers offices in Sherman Oaks. The meeting began at 11 am PT and concluded by 8:45 pm, according to sources.
The sides made “lots of progress and [engaged in] good faith but they need more time,” said one management-side source. “Everyone’s fully engaged but [it’s] unclear what exact plans are.”
Potential regulations on the use of A.I. remained a key issue at the table. “AI remains the thorniest issue,” said a management-side source. On this issue, the person said, “they are still far apart.”
In its own statement on Friday night to members, the WGA negotiating committee noted that the two parties will meet again on Saturday. “Thank you for the wonderful show of support on the picket lines today! It means so much to us as we continue to work toward a deal that writers deserve,” the committee wrote.
Negotiators had made progress in the previous days of talks, according to studio-side sources, but the mood was soured on the management side late on Thursday, when the union allegedly came back with asks on issues that the studios believed had already been settled. “We all got mad,” said one studio-side source, though their sense on Friday was that both sides were intent on wrapping up a deal and were moving through the hiccup. As the negotiations stretched on on Friday, CEOs spent long periods waiting around in their caucus room and killing time, said studio-side insiders familiar with the proceedings.
Meanwhile, the mood among writers on Friday’s packed picket lines was one of cautious optimism, as union members anticipated that the end of the historic work stoppage might be nigh. “The fact that they’ve been talking for three days straight is terrific,” showrunner Marc Guggenheim (Legends of Tomorrow) told THR at Disney.
As of late on Thursday, studio-side sources claimed that their side had made moves on top WGA issues including artificial intelligence and residual compensation tied to the success of streaming shows. TV staffing requirements had also been a major talking point that day at the bargaining table and management had made compromises there, according to these sources. In a message to members on Thursday night, the WGA negotiating committee said only that “The WGA and AMPTP met for bargaining today and will meet again tomorrow,” and exhorted members to show up in force at Friday’s picket lines.
The Writers Guild of America’s 144-day strike is now 10 days away from tying with the 1988 work stoppage as the longest strike in the union’s history. In July, several months into the WGA strike, members of the performers’ union SAG-AFTRA joined their writer counterparts out on the picket lines, the combination of which has essentially halted most Hollywood production.