Writers Guild Members Overwhelmingly Approve Strike Authorization Vote by 97.9%

A strike could happen if a deal with studios is not made by the May 1 deadline

WGA Writers Guild of America

Members of the Writers Guild of America have near-unanimously voted in favor of authorizing the union’s leaders to order a strike if a tentative agreement on a new mutual bargaining agreement is not reached by the May 1 deadline.

The results, which were published by the WGA on Monday, showed that 9,218 members, or 97.85% of the overall vote, were in favor of strike authorization with only 198 votes against. That’s a higher percentage than the 90% who voted for authorization the last time WGA went on strike in 2007 or even the 96% who voted in favor the last time the WGA put forth such a vote in 2017.

“Our membership has spoken,” the WGA Negotiating Committee told guild members in a memo. “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.”

Such an overwhelming approval was expected throughout Hollywood, as the WGA’s characteristically high level of labor militancy increased further in the months leading up to negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the labor representative for the studios in contract negotiations.

As negotiations began last month and held a two-week pause over the Easter holiday, writers have shared stories on social media about how they have struggled to find well-paying jobs in an industry where the pivot to streaming has led to shorter episode orders for TV series and therefore led to writers rooms with fewer staff and lower pay.

The Writers Guild has also released several posts on its contract negotiations website outlining their case for the need for radical change in how writers are compensated for streaming TV shows and movies, showing that the percentage of its members working at MBA minimum rates has risen from 33% in 2013 to 49% in 2022.

“The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels,” the WGA wrote. “On TV staffs, more writers are working at minimum regardless of experience, often for fewer weeks, or in mini-rooms, while showrunners are left without a writing staff to complete the season. And while series budgets have soared over the past decade, median writer-producer pay has fallen.”

“Driven in large part by the shift to streaming, writers are finding their work devalued in every part of the business,” the guild continued. “While company profits have remained high and spending on content has grown, writers are falling behind.”

With strike authorization in hand, the WGA will now return to the negotiating table with more leverage as talks are set to resume over the next two weeks. If a tentative agreement is reached by the deadline, the AMPTP will then move forward on negotiations with the Directors Guild of America, which are currently scheduled to start on May 10.

In a statement, the AMPTP said that a strike authorization vote “has always been part of the WGA’s plan, announced before the parties even exchanged proposals” and that its approval by members “should come as no surprise to anyone.”

“Our goal is, and continues to be, to reach a fair and reasonable agreement,” the AMPTP continued. “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.”