The members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have overwhelmingly voted to approve a strike authorization vote as the guild continues negotiations with the studios. The guild had a bigger turnout and was even more unified today than the last time the guild stopped work, back in 2007-08.
The WGA announced that 97.85 percent of members who voted in the strike authorization voted “yes” in favor of striking. That’s 9,020 members versus just 198 who voted “no.” And the 9,218 WGA members who voted amounts to 78.79 percent of the overall guild membership, a new record for both turnout and overall unity when it comes to a strike authorization vote.
Compare that to the last time the guild voted to authorize a strike back in 2017: During that negotiation, only 96.3 percent of members voted “yes,” and only 67.5 percent of members actually cast ballots. That was a record at the time. And this year’s vote dwarfs the number of people who approved a strike back in 2007, when only 90 percent of voters authorized the strike that eventually lasted 100 days and cost the industry over $2 billion.
“WGA members have authorized a strike by 97.85 percent. Writers are ready for a deal from the studios that allows writers to share in the success of the content they create and build a stable life,” the guild said in a statement shared to its Twitter.
The deal between the WGA and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expires on May 1, and with the enormous turnout of writers threatening to strike, it’s a win for the guild and lends some more ammunition to negotiators in talks with the studios about the guild’s intention to follow through. It doesn’t mean that a strike is guaranteed to happen, and back in 2017 a strike was averted at the last minute. But studios and writers alike have been preparing for the worst for some time now, with studios particularly stockpiling scripts or racing to get content greenlit and in the process of beginning production ahead of a writers work stoppage.
The AMPTP issued a statement to press earlier on Monday ahead of the strike authorization vote results and said that such a vote was “inevitable,” but surely they weren’t expecting even this level of turnout.
“A strike authorization vote has always been part of the WGA’s plan, announced before the parties even exchanged proposals. Its inevitable ratification should come as no surprise to anyone,” the AMPTP said in a statement. “Our goal is, and continues to be, to reach a fair and reasonable agreement. An agreement is only possible if the Guild is committed to turning its focus to serious bargaining by engaging in full discussions of the issues with the Companies and searching for reasonable compromises.”
Prior to this vote, the guild unveiled its “Pattern of Demands” heading into talks with the studios, which have included conversations about higher minimums, more consistent residual payments, a regulation on the practice of so called “mini-rooms,” and regulations on the use of material generated by artificial intelligence. At the time, 98.4 percent of its members voted in favor of those demands.
As for the rest of town, Directors Guild of America meanwhile begins negotiations with the studios on May 10, and their basic agreement expires on June 30, while SAG-AFTRA begins negotiations on June 7, with their basic agreement also expiring on June 30.
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