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Writers Guild Authorizes Strike, Which Could Halt Hollywood Production

A pile of picket signs, mostly in red, white and black, spelling out the message "Writers Guild of America on Strike"
WGA picket signs from the 2007-08 WGA strike.
(David McNew
Getty Images)
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The Writers Guild of America has voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against film and television studios and streamers, which gives WGA negotiators licence to launch a work stoppage in the coming weeks.

More than 9,000 screenwriters — nearly 98% of those casting ballots — voted to authorize a strike if the WGA cannot reach a new agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV producers by May 1.

The guild said the balloting set a WGA record for both turnout (nearly 80% of those eligible voted) and support for a possible strike.

"Our membership has spoken," the WGA 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."

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The vote doesn't mean a strike will definitely happen if there's no deal by May 1; it just gives the union the power to call one.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers dismissed the vote even before the results were announced, saying in a statement that "its inevitable ratification should come as no surprise to anyone."

Do the stories that Hollywood tells about itself really reflect what's going on?

The AMPTP further said, "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."

If the union does end up going on strike, it's unclear how long it would be before a strike would affect what audiences are able to watch.

Many series have numerous scripts in hand, but if members of the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America refused to cross WGA picket lines, many productions would slam to a halt.

The last time the WGA went on strike, in late 2007, it lasted 100 days. A study released soon after the work stoppage prepared by the Milken Institute estimated a net loss of 37,700 jobs directly and indirectly tied to the entertainment industry, resulting in $2.1 billion in losses.

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John Horn, entertainment reporter and host of our weekly podcast Retake, explores whether the stories that Hollywood tells about itself really reflect what's going on?

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