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What you need to know about the Hollywood Writers Guild strike

The Writers Guild of America voted for a strike with a staggering majority on April 17.

The Writers Guild of America voted for a strike with a staggering majority on April 17.

Hollywood writers are gearing up to go on strike, as the Writers Guild of America made their bottomline vote on Monday, April 17.

Nearly 98 percent of writers belonging to the guild voted yes to going on strike if necessary — virtually halting writing production in Hollywood should negotiations turn sour by the May 1 deadline.

Eric Heisserer, a member of the Writers Guild negotiating team, says things do not look hopeful.

“So far, the companies have been unwilling to engage with us in a meaningful way,”  Heisserer said in a recorded message.

The writers have spoken

The Writers Guild of America committee issued a statement to notify the public of the decision.

“Our membership has spoken,” the statement reads. “You have expressed your collective strength, solidarity, and the demand for meaningful change in overwhelming numbers.”

Armed with this demonstration of unity and resolve,” the committee continued, “we will continue to work at the negotiating table to achieve a fair contract for all writers.”

The referendum sets a new record of support for the strike, as well as membership participations, with 79 percent of all card-holding members casting their vote.

The Hollywood Reporter reported that Monday’s referendum saw 97.85 percent of eligible members of the Writers Guild West and East vote to go forward with a strike.

The grand total of voters amounted to 9,218 writers, an unprecedented member turnout for a strike authorization.

What the Writers Guild of America wants

The Writers Guild of America, which is the union for writers in Hollywood, are asking for a restructuring of the way in which writers are paid for their work in the industry.

The request for amendment follows the great impact streaming has had on the industry, as audiences are less likely to go to the movies or watch television on a traditional broadcast network.

Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, one of WGA’s lead negotiators, explained what is behind the negotiations.

“This is not an ordinary negotiating cycle,” the lead negotiator warned. “We are fighting for writers’ economic survival and stability of our profession.”

“We’re disappointed, but not surprised. The companies have never taken our issues seriously without at least the threat of a fight,” said Sanchez-Witzel.

What does the Writers’ strike mean?

Though the strike authorization does not mean writers will altogether stop working immediately — it gives the option to strike if negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Hollywood studios and streaming giants like Disney, Netflix, and Amazon, does not pan out for the writers.

While a strike is not in motion until certain aspects of negotiations are revisited, the referendum gives the Writers Guild significant leverage.

Before the vote took place on Monday, the WGA allegedly drafted a statement warning the strike was “inevitable”, as the AMPTP revealed in a statement. The alliance also said they were committed to reaching a “fair and reasonable agreement,”pending on the guild’s willingness to negotiate reasonably.

“A strike authorization vote has always been part of the WGA’s plan, announced before the parties even exchanged proposals,” the AMPTP alleged. “Its inevitable ratification should come as no surprise to anyone.


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