WGA Members Start Voting On Strike Authorization

HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — The roughly 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America will begin voting Wednesday on whether to authorize a strike that could cripple Hollywood and the Southern California economy.

The WGA is engaged in discussions with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major studios, networks and independent producers. The two groups are at odds over such issues as compensation and benefits.

The writers are seeking wage hikes, higher residual payments and greater contributions to their health and pension plans. The studios are balking at the guild’s demands.

On Monday, the WGA and the AMPTP suspended talks on a new labor agreement, scheduling them to resume April 25, the day after the strike-authorization vote ends. Negotiations began on March 13 and lasted nearly two weeks, then resumed April 10.

This was the second time negotiations have stalled. The two sides walked away from the table March 24 after the guild said producers balked at their demands. The producers claimed that the writers walked away first, which the guild has denied.

The WGA last went on strike in 2007, and that work stoppage lasted 100 days and brought much of the Hollywood industry to a halt. The strike cost the Los Angeles economy an estimated $2.5 billion, halting production and drying up income for writers, set decorators, caterers, limo drivers, and florists.

Writers also went on strike for 155 days in 1988. In both instances, the most in-demand writers eventually got tired of losing income and applied pressure to wrap it up.

If members approve a strike, as they almost certainly will, and no pact with studios has been reached by May 1, the writers will stop writing and picketing will start the next day.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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