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Writers Guild Authorizes Strike

Writers Guild of America overwhelmingly voted in favor of a strike Monday, with about 96.3% of the voting membership agreeing to walk off the job if talks with producers fail.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 6,310 members voted, a record turnout for the WGA and representing about 67.5% of its 13,000 total members. The authorization is largely a negotiating tactic – its contract doesn’t expire until midnight on May 1 – and the union is expected to continue talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Tuesday. The vote only authorizes the union to strike if a deal isn’t reached and could be extended if the parties believe they are close to an agreement.

The WGA represents writers for all major media, including films, broadcast and pay TV production. The union is asking for pay increases and a bigger cut of residuals from streaming video outlets like Netflix and Amazon for its members. Writers also want employers to pay a larger portion of their health care costs.

In a statement the AMPTP said both sides are “committed to reaching a deal at the bargaining table that keeps the industry working.”

A 100-day strike in 2007 shut down film and television production across the entertainment business. According to AMPTP, that strike cost writers $287 million in lost compensation that was never recovered.