The WGA has called on its members to save television and feature writing as its strike authorization vote opens.
The guild, in an email to members seen by Deadline, said, “The survival of writing as a profession is at stake in this negotiation.”
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“Over the past decade, while our employers have increased their profits by tens of billions, they have embraced business practices that have slashed our compensation and residuals and undermined our working conditions. We’ve met and talked with thousands of you about our bargaining agenda and heard loud and clear that this negotiation can’t be business as usual. The compensation increases and protections we’re demanding are designed to restore what has been taken away from writers,” it added.
The guild revealed last week that it was opening the vote, otherwise known as the SAV, which was widely expected as it continues talks with the studios. Voting begins this evening at 8:30pm and continues through Monday April 17 at noon.
The vote is expected to sail through to a ‘Yes’ majority, the question is just how large a majority the guild gets as a bargaining tool against the AMPTP. The last time that the WGA held a strike authorization vote in 2017, it received 96% support.
Sources have told Deadline that the WGA is fielding a large number of votes right now, as also evidenced on social media, where many writers including Better Call Saul exec producer Thomas Schnauz, Dead Boy Detectives showrunner Beth Schwartz, New Amsterdam exec producer Aaron Ginsburg and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert head writer Ariel Dumasare showing their solidarity.
While the voting happens, the WGA is expected to continue talks with the studios this week; Deadline revealed on Friday that the AMPTP extended an invite to the WGA leadership, run by chief negotiator Ellen Stutzman, to sit down again this week, despite it originally being set as one of two weeks off between talks. The WGA informed the AMPTP that they couldn’t make it until Friday April 14.
While that’s happening there are a number of SAV meetings planned this week.
There was a meeting at the Fairmont Century Plaza last night (Monday April 10). By the time you read this, there will have been a meeting at the United Federation of Teachers, Shanker Hall in New York tonight, and a meeting at the Sheraton Universal in LA will have kicked off.
These will be followed by two meetings on Zoom on Wednesday, April 12 and Thursday, April 13.
Along with those sessions, an in-person showrunner specific information meeting is set for April 13 in West LA, we hear.
“I appreciate the outreach, but I already know how I’m voting,” one pro-strike guild member said of the information sessions.
There has been near unanimous intention to back leadership with a strike authorization mandate.
“The studios need to understand that the days of lowballing need to end, they need to know this is not business as usual,” a cable showrunner told Deadline. “Giving our team in the room more leverage can only be a positive outcome in the short and long run,” another showrunner added.
The WGA’s latest inflammatory language in its email to members comes after it said that the studios “need to respond to the crisis writers face”.
Unlike past union negotiations and strike saber rattling, even more conservative writers and showrunners expressed their support for the need for an overwhelming strike authorization vote for the WGA. “We’ve been patient, we’ve been willing to meet the studios more than halfway before,” a veteran writer said. “Nobody wants to see production halt, obviously, but now we need to see some action, some real increases and equity.”
It added that the AMPTP “failed to offer meaningful responses on the core economic issues in any of the WGA’s primary work areas — screen, episodic television and comedy-variety” but admitted that “they have listened politely to our presentations and made small moves in only a few areas” and that these moves are “coupled with rollbacks designed to offset any gains.” Studio sources denied that they are proposing any rollbacks.
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