WGA Overwhelmingly Votes to Approve Strike Amid Negotiations

The last writers strike that ended in 2008 took 100 days to resolve. It's considered a foregone conclusion that most of the 12,000 or so Guild members will authorize a strike this time around if a new deal isn't reached

The union said 67.5 percent of eligible WGA members voted, describing it as "a historic turnout". "We are determined to achieve a fair contract", the union's negotiating committee said in an email to members Monday. In its statement, the AMPTP pegged the compensation loss to writers during that strike at $287 million. Writers could stop work on film and television projects if the unions' boards cannot reach a satisfactory deal with the studios by May 1. The AMPTP responded to the strike authorization, insisting it is open to negotiations; however, officials warned about the far-reaching effects the 2007-2008 strike had on everyone. Networks would rely more heavily on news, sports and reality programming. Some television staff writers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. And to top it off, reruns don't attract very many viewers anymore, limiting residual payments. But since movies take longer to develop, scripts can be prepared for movies several years in advance.

Further, the guild says that script fees per episode are being stretched over a longer time than in the past - as long as three weeks, where the previous standard was two.

If the WGA goes on strike, it will not be the first time this has happened during the production Star Trek on TV or film.

The previously arranged health care plan is also in trouble, and restructuring it will be part of the new negotiations, as will protection for the current pension plan and discussions for personal and family leave. Production halted, income dried up for writers, set decorators, caterers, limousine drivers and florists, and TV networks ran loads of reruns. While studio profits have gone up in recent years, writer's wages have actually gone down.

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While these exclusivity rules didn't affect writers as much when shows produced around 22 episodes per season, more shows are moving to a model that includes only about 13 episodes a season.

With the rise of Netflix, HBO Go and Amazon, consumers are downgrading cable TV packages or foregoing connections altogether. David Letterman also came back after his production company, which owned his show, struck its own interim deal with the WGA.

According to the WGA, which has about 20,000 members, median earnings for writers dropped between the 2013-14 season and 2015-16, and more and more scribes are finding it hard to make a living under current deals. And pay for media moguls has been rising. Because the companies don't want to give us a penny they don't have to.

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