All you need to know about the Writers Guild of America’s looming strike

The results of a recent online ballot have shown that the members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike action in case their contract talks with the studios and streamers fail to reach an agreement.

The week-long ballot showed a 78.79% voter turnout, with 97.85% or 9,020 members voting in favor of strike authorization and 2.15% or 198 members voting against.

The WGA has been calling for greater compensation, especially for TV writers, and has been demanding enhanced payments for residuals, which has become a contentious issue in the streaming age, and for writers in “mini rooms.”

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which negotiates on behalf of Hollywood studios, streamers, and networks, issued a statement saying that the ratification of the strike authorization vote was inevitable and that their goal is to reach a fair and reasonable agreement.

Writers raise signs at wga rally 2008
Writers raise signs at WGA rally 2007/2008

While both sides have held contract renewal talks for a few weeks, a strike could happen any time after May 1, when the current WGA agreement expires. A strike would cause significant disruption, particularly in the television sector where writers’ rooms work throughout a season.

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However, the consensus in Hollywood is that industrial action will go ahead, although many believe that a strike would not last as long as the 100-day industrial action that took place from late 2007 into early 2008.

A writers’ strike may not impact productions earmarked for principal photography towards the end of this year and into 2024, as Hollywood sales agents heading into the Cannes market are continuing to package projects.

The directors and actors’ guilds are also preparing to renegotiate their contracts, which expire on June 30. Were their members to go on strike, the impact would be far greater, in which case independent producers may work with non-guild members and set up more collaborations with European and non-US partners whose members may not be affiliated with the Hollywood guilds.