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Writers' strike brings Hollywood to a halt

11,000 writers with the WGA are now on strike. It’s not the first time nor the only industry to see a strike.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — More than 11,000 TV and movie writers are now on strike. 

The new streaming era has been great for so many new ways to watch things, but the writers say it has made it harder to make a living. 

With the strike underway, lights on set are turning off and new productions are halted. 

Insiders say writers and the big entertainment companies are weeks away from reaching a deal that could end the strike. 


Right away, late night talk shows stop and will go into reruns. A new episode of Saturday Night Live is not expected to air this upcoming weekend. 

Anything already written and produced can be released, but if this strike lasts more than a few weeks, your favorite shows may be delayed this fall. 

"A lot of shows have just ended their seasons. It is May, which is generally the time that the traditional TV season ends, but a lot of writers rooms were about to go back to work for next fall, so there could be a big delay in the fall TV programming lineup, especially the traditional networks," said Michael Schneider, Variety TV Editor. 

"The streamers have a little more shows that that are in their back pocket and on the shelf. So it may take a little longer for the impact to be felt over there," said Schneider.


The longest Writers Guild Strike was back in 1988 and lasted for about 5 and a half months. 

The most recent strike was back in 2007 and writers were off the job for about 3 months. 

The issues during the 2007 strike focused on a better pay and more money from DVD sales. 

They also wanted pay set for writers on what was called 'new media'  

Those were shows and movies being made for the internet, which would eventually develop into streaming services. 

Strikes are not unique to the entertainment industry, they've been apart of the U.S. workforce for decades. 

"Strikes are one of the main tactics that unions and other labor formations have used historically in the United States as a means to bargain collectively with their employers. Even though strikes sound like a scary thing, it's actually a very American tactic that goes all the way back to the earliest labor guilds and apprenticeships," said Erik Gellman, Associate Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill. 


The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was a federation of unions that was around from 1935 to 1955.

It paved the way for many of the big strikes you often think of historically. 

"You saw lots of massive strikes on steel, auto and other industries," said Gellman.

In the early 1940's there were more entertainment industry strikes, some including the Screen Actor's Guild strike and a strike by cartoonists against Walt Disney. 

As for what's fueling the resurgence in labor activity, Gellman laid out three ideas. 

  1. The pandemic exposed the essential nature of workers who previously seemed not as essential. Now it's leading to not just union, but groups of workers who are collecting together 
  2. The National Labor Relations Board which often solves labor disputes has become much more effective under the Biden Administration. It's enforced the law when companies go too far and break employment laws 
  3. Young workers don't buy into the right to work mentality. They want to collectively organize 



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