Writers Guild Members Vote for Strike Authorization With 96% Support

WGA Placeholder Contract Negotiations
Images: Shutterstock; Illustration: Variety

More than 96% of the voting members of the Writers Guild of America have authorized a strike against production companies.

The WGA released the results Monday, a day ahead of the resumption of contract negotiations on a master contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. A work stoppage could start as early as May 2, after the current three-year master contract has expired.

“We thank you for your resolve and your faith in us as your representatives. We are determined to achieve a fair contract,” the negotiating committee said in a statement.

The AMPTP issued a statement in response to the strike authorization announcement: “The companies are committed to reaching a deal at the bargaining table that keeps the industry working. The 2007 Writers Strike hurt everyone. Writers lost more than $287 million in compensation that was never recovered, deals were cancelled, and many writers took out strike loans to make ends meet. We remain focused on our objective of reaching a deal with the WGA at the bargaining table when the guild returns on April 25th.”

A total of 6,310 ballots were cast and 67.5% of eligible WGA members voted. The support was similar to the 2007 strike authorization, which received backing from 90% of the 5,507 guild members voting. The strike authorization voting period began April 19 and ended at noon PT Monday.

The vote was not open to all WGA West and WGA East members, but only to those who have worked under AMPTP contract during the past six years and those with 15 or more years in pension plan.

The two sides have held about three weeks of negotiations, starting on March 13. The WGA announced on April 5 to media buyers that a strike could have a significant impact on primetime programming for the 2017-2018 television season.

The two sides jointly announced April 17 that they had suspended negotiations for a week while the WGA conducted the strike authorization vote. Leaders of the WGA then urged the guild’s 12,000 members to support the strike authorization, asserting that doing so will give negotiators the maximum leverage at the bargaining table. Should negotiators be making progress after talks resume, both sides could agree to extend the current contract.

WGA held three meetings last week for members to rally them. Several attendees at the meetings — closed to everyone except members and staff — said that there was consistent support for the negotiators.

The guild is asking for raises in minimums and script fees in an effort to offset changes in the nature of TV series production that have hit writers’ earnings. It’s pushing for parity for the payment structures for those working on shows for cable and SVOD outlets, where fees remain lower than those for traditional broadcast network TV, along with an increase in employer contributions to the guild’s health plan, which has been operating at a deficit.

A strike would be the first in a decade for the union. The WGA last struck for 100 days between Nov. 5, 2007, and Feb. 12, 2008.

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  1. Dylan says:

    Last time they went on strike, the era of reality shows began. I can only imagine the horrible ideas TV exec’s have in their pocket during this strike.

  2. This matters not to me. A cross-country move away from pricey Seattle in 2012 meant that to get television I’d have to pay for cable or install an outside antenna. I did neither and haven’t missed it. When I hear a new show promoted, I find myself asking, “Why would I want to watch that?’ For recreation I read, I go for walks, and I watch documentaries on Youtube. Much better.

    Many of us see little reason to care how the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Writers Guild of America settle this dispute. Perhaps we’ll get lucky. All new production will stop, and the networks will rerun shows like “Leave to Beaver.” That’d be a dramatic improvement. More than ever, today’s kids, growing up in dysfunctional, broken homes, need positive role models of healthy two-parent families.

    • AJ says:

      Millions of people work in tv and film. This devastates them and their families. Not everyone who works in this industry get paid the amount the writers do. It’s a working industry just like any other industries that contributes millions – i’m sorry BILLIONS- to the american economy. Sorry you don’t like watching TV but its not JUST about that.

  3. Susan says:

    Someone needs to strike for some decent programming. The junk they have now isn’t fit to watch. I love my Roku and my antennae for local news. iPad for all other news, but with caution. Watch congressional hearings for the real news. Not only saves me money, but I can pick what I want. Love it!

  4. Does the WGA have what they want?

  5. Chris Christie's Belt says:

    Does Fallon really need writers to play beer pong with the kardashians and say how great it is?

  6. bakunin115 says:

    As a failed writer who never made a dime from his words, I fully support those lucky enough to live from their writing fighting for even fairer treatment in their work.

    • Jim says:

      Note that the only ones eligible to vote for the strike are long-time writers who likely can afford to miss a paycheck.

  7. Kevin says:

    And so it begins! All the negative responses are posted by probably one person with numerous aliases aligned with the Studios practice of dispensing misinformation.
    The WGA must strike as should SAG-AFTRA to curtail the unimaginable greed of the Studios.
    Writers,Actors & Directors have lost so much because of streaming media,new media,VSOD etc .Its mind boggling how all of us creatives have been financially raped !

    • Pan says:

      That’s a bit paranoid right out of the gate. But I’m sure trolls exist in every nook of the web.. My comments are from my only profile and I stand by them.. The writing in tv and movies has offered very little entertainment and tried to cram political agendas for years.. If that is what I wanted out of movie or tv night, I’d be in support of the strike.. It isn’t.. Heartwarming, clever, action, comedy, suspense, those things are what I want..

  8. Rocket43 says:

    Really looking forward to having our savings once again depleted by a writers strike. Only this time it will be even more exciting because we have kids now. As if having a spouse in film/tv production wasn’t unstable enough we have this uncertainty to look forward to.

    • Leo Korsh says:

      How about instead of whining like a baby, you put your frustrated energy into organizing your own class to protect your interest? Why should all writers suffer from bad payment plans and lack of health insurance? Not our fault you are not smart enough to be part of a Union.

      • Jessica says:

        As someone in a “below-the-line” union (IATSE Local 480), it’s frustrating to see your response. We, of course, stand in solidarity with the WGA, but it’s hard to not be worried about how I’m going to pay my mortgage should the strike happen (and happen for a long time). You’re forgetting that we also rely on production companies for our health insurance and wages. If I don’t work, I have to go on unemployment – and four weeks of unemployment barely covers my mortgage (I don’t even want to think about my other bills that would go unpaid so I could stay solvent on my mortgage…)

      • Rocket43 says:

        We are part of a union – the DGA. No need to call me or anyone else who is being forced out of work due to the strike whiny babies or stupid and that is more of a reflection on you as a human and your lack of empathy. The strike effects a 100,000 people who are at the mercy of 6,000. People have lost their homes due to previous writers strikes.

  9. lo says:

    Be great if the main stream news media strikes with them

    • Pan says:

      Yes, an infomercial would be more entertaining than watching a CNN cameraman being cast as an interviewed protester.. And people still watch that load of garbage.. If you can’t trust the news with an on the spot U.S. interview, how the heck can you trust them with any story ? Bunch of liars.. And not the only instance.. Any news outlet that claims it is reporting news should be held liable with millions in fines for producing fake stories and scripted/impersonated interviews.. It is propaganda not news..

  10. Pan says:

    There is hidden talent to be found in not yet recognized creative writers.. I hope the production companies start scouring for them and bring back some great script writing..

    • Fred Mertz Jr. says:

      That is against the law asshole.

      • Pan says:

        To look for them is not illegal.. Find the talent, get them into the Guild and use them instead of the stale stuff we keep getting.. So fast to call someone else a dumbass 😂
        There hasn’t been great tv or movies in a long time, in my opinion.. Give writers a raise in anything ? Then raise the talent bar.. Don’t like my opinion, too bad 😉 This is a comment section for opinion.. We don’t have to agree..

      • Chris Christie's Belt says:

        LOL, NO
        They are voting not to show up for work. People are allowed to hire other writers if they don;t want to show up for work.

      • Leo Korsh says:

        No it’s not. I only have a career in this business because of the last strike, so yeah, this will happen if the strike moves forward. Plus, lots of Youtubers will flood media this time just like reality TV did back in the day.

  11. Kaboom! says:

    May the strike go on for 3 or 4 years without any resolution!!!! Goodbye Hollywood!!!

  12. Kevin says:

    I Love the WGA ! I wish SAG-AFTRA (or should I say AMPTP-AFTRA) would stand up for its rank and file like the SCREEN ACTORS GUILD pre-merger !

    • Leo Korsh says:

      You should be so lucky Gabrielle Carteris even attempts to address something that isn’t cosmetic like trying to censor IMDB for showing their real age, let alone a real strike. Thespians are due a strike for a long time.

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