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WGA Approaching Strike Authorization

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Picketers during the 2007/2008 WGA strike. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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Voting to give Writers Guild of America leaders the authority to call a strike began Wednesday and continue through Monday night, with the guild likely to vote yes on the authorization, according to the LA Times. Negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are in recess until Tuesday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The end of the recess coincides with the announcement of the group's final vote. The two groups have been in contract negotiations since March after months of organizing.

The Guild's president wrote on Facebook about the vote, describing how "this authorization is the single best and largest piece of leverage we have to get writers what they need and deserve." The WGA contract expires May 1, which leaves only a week of negotiations to reach an agreement and avoid a strike. Currently, the guild's demands are triple the AMPTP's offer, according to The Hollywood Reporter, so significant strides would be necessary to reach a negotiation satisfactory to both sides.

According to the LA Times, many studios and networks don't have a full strike plan in place the way they did in 2007. Executives are seeking "contingency plans," including delaying summer scripted premieres. While the timing of a possible strike comes at the end of the television production year, it would coincide with the yearly upfronts where studios and networks take their new content to advertisers. If the companies are in negotiations with writers who are on strike, it's likely advertisers will be reluctant to pay high rates for slots in primetime shows.

The strike in 2007 lasted 100 days and brought significant changes for writers as the industry started incorporating digital media. Writers are currently at a similar crossroads with the prevalence of streaming and shorter seasons. The 2007 strike lost $2.1 billion in output for California, according to the LA Times.