April 21, 2024

WGA members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The vote, which was approved by nearly 98% of the eligible voting members, authorizes the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council to call a strike if a fair deal for a new film and TV contract isn’t reached by May 1, when the current pact expires.

The two sides are set to resume negotiations at 2 p.m. PT today.

The vote was: 9,020 (97.85%) in favor and 198 (2.15%) opposed. Total ballots cast was 9,218 (78.79% of eligible WGA members), setting new record for both participation and the percentage of support in a strike authorization vote.

“Our membership has spoken,” the WGA Negotiating Committee told guild members. “You have expressed your collective strength, solidarity, and the demand for meaningful change in overwhelming numbers. Armed with this demonstration of unity and resolve, we will continue to work at the negotiating table to achieve a fair contract for all writers.”

Bargaining for a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which began March 20, is now expected to kick into high gear as the deadline for a deal draws near.

When balloting began last week, the guild said, “A vote to authorize a strike, particularly by a wide margin, gives the Negotiating Committee leverage to make the best deal possible, and entrusts leadership with the power to declare a strike after contract expiration, if needed.”

At that time, the guild said: “After several weeks at the bargaining table, [the studios] have failed to offer meaningful responses on the core economic issues in any of the WGA’s primary work areas — screen, episodic television and comedy-variety. They have listened politely to our presentations and made small moves in only a few areas, almost entirely coupled with rollbacks designed to offset any gains. In short, the studios have shown no sign that they intend to address the problems our members are determined to fix in this negotiation. “

Back in 2017 – the last time a strike authorization was taken – it was approved by 96.3% of the 6,310 writers who cast ballots, with a record 67.5% turnout of eligible WGA members. The WGA’s last strike, launched in 2007, lasted 100 days. That authorization vote was approved by 90% of voters.

Earlier today, the AMPTP said: “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.  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.”

Going into the negotiations, the guild’s Pattern of Demands, which are a long list of general goals, were broken down into three categories. They include:

Compensation and Residuals

  • Increased minimum compensation significantly to address the devaluation of writing in all areas of television, new media and features.
  • Standardized compensation and residual terms for features whether released theatrically or on streaming.
  • Address the abuses of mini-rooms.
  • Ensure appropriate television series writing compensation throughout entire process of preproduction, production and post production.
  • Expand span protections to cover all television writers.
  • Apply MBA minimums to comedy variety programs made for new media.
  • Increased residuals for under compensated reuse markets.
  • Restrict uncompensated use of excerpts.

Pension Plan and Health Fund

  • Increase contributions to pension plan and health fund.

Professional Standards and Protection in the Employment of Writers

  • For feature contracts in which compensation falls below a specified threshold, require weekly payment of compensation and a minimum of two steps.
  • Strengthen regulation of options and exclusivity in television writer employment contracts.
  • Regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies.
  • Enact measures to combat discrimination and harassment and to promote pay equity
  • Revise and expand all arbitrator lists.