Unionized film and television writers have voted overwhelmingly to give their leaders the authority to call a strike if a new contract agreement is not reached with producers.
In an email to members Monday, the negotiating committee of the Writers Guild of America said nearly 98% of the 9,218 votes were cast to authorize the strike, with nearly 79% of guild members voting.
“Our membership has spoken,” the email said. “You have expressed your collective strength, solidarity, and the demand for meaningful change in overwhelming numbers.”
The writers’ three-year contract expires May 1, and leaders could call for a walkout the following day, but could extend the deadline if the two sides are close to a deal.
Issues in negotiations include pay, writers’ ability to work for different shows during downtime from other projects, and, according to Variety, the use of artificial intelligence in the script process.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates for studios, streaming services and production companies, said in a statement Monday that 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,” the statement said.
The writers’ voted for a similar strike authorization in nearly the same numbers in 2017, but a deal was reached before a strike was called. The guild last went on strike in 2007.