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WGA Members Authorize Strike by 9-1 Margin

The members of

Writers Guild of America

authorized a strike, with 90.3% of the 5,507 voters backing a walkout if the WGA so chooses.

According to the WGA, the vote was the highest turnout in guild history, surpassing the 4,128 who voted to ratify a deal in 2001.

The vote formalizes the WGA's ability to call for a work stoppage if no deal is met with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers by the Oct. 31 deadline.

“It is now up to the AMPTP companies to begin to bargain seriously concerning the issues important to our members,” WGA West president Patric Verrone said in a statement released Friday evening. “Writers do not want to strike, but they are resolute and prepared to take strong, united action to defend our interests.”

“This historic vote sends an unequivocal message to the AMPTP, loud and clear. We will not be taken advantage of and we will not be fooled,” WGA East president Michael Winship said in the same press release.

AMPTP chief Nick Counter sounded less than impressed, even calling into question the voting policies.

"A strike authorization vote is a pro forma tactic used by every union in the country, and usually, the vote is overwhelmingly in favor of a strike,” he said in a statement in response to the vote. "We are not surprised with the outcome of this vote, given reports of how this election was conducted. Our focus is on negotiating a reasonable agreement with the WGA."

According to the WGA, the actual ballot asked writers: “Should the WGAW board of directors and the WGAE council be authorized to declare a strike, if and when they deem it advisable to do so, in connection with negotiations for the 2007 WGA theatrical and television basic agreement?”

The sides are set to return to the table Monday.