The WGA’s march toward strike authorization continued tonight at the Beverly Hilton, where hundreds of writers gathered to voice their support for their leaders’ bargaining position. As was the case at Tuesday night’s meeting, it appears that nearly everyone in attendance stands ready to strike if they don’t get a fair deal.

If it comes to that, a strike can’t start until midnight May 1, when the guild’s current film and TV contract expires. But a work stoppage can still be averted if the two sides can reach an agreement when they return to the bargaining table next week after a second two-week hiatus.

But first, the members have to authorize a strike, which could then be called by the negotiating committee in conjunction with the WGA West board and WGA East council. Membership approval of strike authorization is all but certain, as guild leaders have warned membership that rejecting it would be tantamount to surrender.

“If we don’t get that authority – if the membership does not give us a ‘yes’ vote in the strike authorization – then we are essentially telling the companies, ‘You can give us whatever you want,’” said former WGA West president Chris Keyser, a co-chair of the WGA negotiating committee, on a recent podcast.

Many members leaving tonight’s meeting said they stand behind their leaders’ call for strike authorization.

An hour after the meeting began, out in the hallway, cheers and enthusiastic applause could be heard whenever the heavy wooden doors opened to the packed International Ballroom.

A veteran of two WGA strikes said the companies “know exactly what we want but they offered us nothing. No negotiating is happening now and it won’t be until the last week of the talks.” Speaking of tonight’s meeting, he said, “that’s a united group in there. I’m so thrilled with the turnout.”

Another writer said there is “big support” for the strike authorization, while another said there is “no doubt” that the authorization will be approved.

“The membership is united, as it always is around a strike authorization vote,” said another writer. “Nobody wants a strike, but the best way to avert a strike is to authorize a strike. It’s kinda perverse, but that’s the way it is.”