EXCLUSIVE: With one day left in scheduled negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over a new film and TV contract, a strike vote by the scribes is now looking like a real possibility. “That’s the way the wind is blowing,” a source with intimate knowledge of the ongoing talks told Deadline this afternoon.
“We could have a strike vote very soon,” another insider told Deadline.
While this could be posturing to light a fire under producer reps AMPTP, even the whisper of a strike-authorization vote among senior WGA officials takes the situation to a precipice Hollywood has not really been at since 2007. Regardless, “it’s in the air in a real way,” a prominent Hollywood writer said.
Saturday is the final day of scheduled negotiations on a new three-year film and TV contract. Talks began March 13 in an atmosphere some described as “tense,” while others called them “cordial.” The current contract expires May 1, so there is time to make a deal.
Another source said that David Young, the WGA executive director and chief negotiator, often uses the threat of a strike-authorization vote as leverage when negotiations aren’t going well. Sometimes that is enough to get the companies to be more flexible. If not, and talks fail to produce an agreement, an authorization vote would be held. Such a vote, however, is not a vote to strike but to authorize the guild’s board of directors to call a strike if further talks fail to produce a deal.
The WGA and AMPTP are said to be focused on a wide range of issues including proposals to save the guild’s ailing health plan, which could run out of money in three years at the current rates of income and expenditures. The guild also wants more money for writers of shows for new media. Going into the talks, guild leaders told members that “new models of development, production and distribution, while making the companies richer, have not worked to your individual or collective advantage.”
The guild is also looking to reverse the recent downturn in TV writer-producers’ earnings and to boost the earnings of film writers, whose incomes have been in a steady decline during the past decade due to fewer films being released.