Television and film writers vote overwhelmingly to strike

The membership of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) came back with an overwhelming vote in favor of a strike in the event that the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) do not reach an agreement by the May 1 expiry of the current contract.

The WGA reported Monday that with 78.79 percent of the members voting, 97.85 percent voted to authorize a strike—or 9,020 in favor of strike authorization and only 198 opposed. According to the Guild, both the percentage voting in favor of a strike and the actual turnout set a record.

2007-08 WGA strike [Photo: WSWS]

In a statement, the WGA asserted that “Our membership has spoken. Writers have expressed our collective strength, solidarity, and the demand for meaningful change in overwhelming numbers. Armed with this undeniable demonstration of unity and resolve, we will continue to work at the negotiating table to achieve a fair contract for all writers.’

For its part, the AMPTP, which speaks for the major film studios (Paramount, Sony, Universal, Disney and Warner Bros.), the major television networks, as well as the biggest streaming services such as Netflix, Apple TV+ and Amazon, issued a statement contemptuously dismissing the strike vote. Such a vote, the employers declared, “has always been part of the WGA’s plan, announced before the parties even exchanged proposals. Its inevitable ratification should come as no surprise to anyone.” This is the arrogant voice of the corporate aristocracy speaking to its serfs.

The AMPTP is placing its hopes in the ability of the WGA to control the writers and in its eventual readiness to surrender on the major questions, as it did in the 2007-08 strike.

However, the conditions facing writers have worsened dramatically since then and the conflict between the writers and the AMPTP giants now takes place during a rising tide of working class struggles, in the US and internationally.

In reference to a possible strike, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos commented Tuesday that “we want to work really hard to make sure we can find a fair and equitable deal so we can avoid one.” The companies, however, were bracing and making preparations for a strike. If there is a strike, Sarandos warned, “We have a large base of upcoming shows and films from around the world. We could probably serve our members better than most… We do have a pretty robust slate of releases to take us into a long time.”

The talks for a new contract began March 20, and the WGA agreement is the first to lead this year among the entertainment unions. The contract will presumably set the bargaining pattern for both the Directors Guild of America (DAG) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), whose contracts both expire on June 30.

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