Hollywood just took a big step closer to shutting down due to a writers’ strike.
The membership of the Writers Guild of America have voted to authorize its leadership to order a walkout.
This doesn’t mean that a strike will happen, necessarily. It means that WGA leadership can order its entire membership to stop working on movies and television shows if negotiations with studios do not result in a new contract. The current contract expires May 1. This is basically the Hollywood writers’ equivalent to being at DEFCON 1.
The strike authorization was approved by 96.3 percent of the 6,310 writers who cast ballots, the WGA said in a letter sent to members and obtained by EW. A total of 67.5 percent of eligible members voted, the WGA added, a record-high turnout.
“We thank you for your resolve and your faith in us as your representatives,” the 2017 negotiating committee said in the letter. “We are determined to achieve a fair contract. Talks will resume tomorrow.”
The Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers — the negotiating lobby of the studios — fired back with a statement of their own, warning the previous writers strike in 2007-08 “hurt everybody.”
“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,” read the statement. “We remain focused on our objective of reaching a deal with the WGA at the bargaining table when the Guild returns on April 25th.”
The WGA leadership is expected to resume talks with studios on Tuesday. Getting a strike authorization is considered a key component that demonstrates to studios that writers are willing to walk out if necessary.
Writers are ready to go on strike for higher wage minimums, better health care, and streaming residuals, among other issues.