Writers Guild of America Authorizes Strike with Overwhelming Support
After beginning negotiations four weeks ago, members of the Writers Guild of America have authorized a strike if their conditions are not met. The guild is primarily looking for increased compensation for writers to match the increased profits studios have seen with the rise of streaming services.
The strike authorization does not mean the writers will strike, but it does give the negotiating committee more firepower when they meet with the AMPTP for continued negotiations.
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“Our membership has spoken,” the guild’s negotiating committee said in a statement. “Writers have expressed our collective strength, solidarity, and the demand for meaningful change in overwhelming numbers. Armed with this undeniable demonstration of unity and resolve, we will continue to work at the negotiating table to achieve a fair contract for all writers.”
The AMPTP said they want to reach a “fair and reasonable agreement” and that “a strike authorization vote has always been part of the WGA’s plan, announced before the parties even exchanged proposals.”
During the strike authorization vote in the last two weeks, many writers took to social media to express their reasons for voting “yes.” Bryan Behar, a writer and producer on Netflix’s Fuller House, wrote on Twitter, “What my guild is asking for is neither radical nor novel. They just want writing to once again be a sustainable career option for those who do it.”
Check out our earlier coverage for more background on the Writer’s Guild negotiations with the AMPTP.
Parallels to the 2007-2008 Strike
The last time the Writers Guild went on strike was in 2007. As is the case in 2023, the guild was looking for increased compensation for writers.
The guild was on strike for 100 days and shut down all scripted production in Hollywood. The studios also fired all lower-level staffers working on shows that had been shut down, including writers’ assistants.
Ultimately, the Writers Guild reached an agreement with the studios that included back-end gross compensation and streamers hiring Guild writers. The guild also secured pay hikes up to 3.5%.
However, things feel different this time around. For starters, in 2007, 90% of Guild members voted in favor of a strike authorization. The most recent strike authorization was in 2017, two negotiating cycles ago, when 96.3% of members voted in favor, and turnout was at a record 67.5%.
In 2023, 97.85% of writers voted in favor of a strike, with 79% of members casting a ballot—a record for participation and strike support. In an email to members with the strike authorization voting form, the guild said, “The survival of writing as a profession is at stake in this negotiation.”
Studios and the Guild have until May 1 to reach a deal; otherwise, writers will strike.