LOS ANGELES (CN) – Over 96 percent of the Writers Guild of America on Monday authorized the union to call a strike, to give it more bargaining power as it negotiates with film and television studios for raises and larger payments to their health plan.
Current active members of the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East authorized the strike with in-person voting that started April 18. Online voting ended Monday at noon. Members cast 6,310 ballots.
The vote authorization does not necessarily mean the unions will strike. Instead, it gives union leaders the power to declare a strike on its members’ behalf. Writers could stop work on film and television projects if the unions’ boards cannot reach a satisfactory deal with the studios by May 1.
A strike would throw network television schedules into disarray. The last writers’ strike in 2007 lasted 100 days, forcing networks to take their late-night shows off air and fill their schedules with reruns.
That strike also caused delays to scripted comedy and drama.
By some estimates, the last impasse cost Los Angeles $2.5 billion in losses.
The two unions are expected to resume contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Tuesday. The trade association represents the interests of more than 350 film and television companies in contract negotiations with the unions.
In a statement, the alliance noted the last strike “hurt everyone” and said the negotiations would continue.
“Writers lost more than $287 million in compensation that was never recovered, deals were cancelled, and many writers took out strike loans to make ends meet. We remain focused on our objective of reaching a deal with the WGA at the bargaining table when the guild returns on April 25,” the alliance said.