October 19, 2007–Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have strongly backed a strike authorization with a 90% endorsement. Due to high turnout, the announcement of the results of the WGA's strike authorization vote was delayed until Friday eve, four hours after the original target.
About half of the WGA members voted with 5,507 casting ballots. It was the highest turnout in the guild's history, surpassing the previous record of 4,128 votes cast in 2001's contract ratification.
WGA West president Patric Verrone said guild negotiators have the backing of their members and that the studios and TV nets need to take a serious look at the Guild proposals, which seek a doubling of DVD residuals, spelling out terms of new media work and broadening WGA jurisdiction over new media, reality and animation.
But Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, downplayed the results. He said the level of support for a strike authorization was not surprising and that there were concerns over how the Guild had conducted the balloting, which included contacting members who had not voted and not bringing an independent party to count the ballots.
There's been no movement by either side at the negotiating table during 3 months except for the AMPTP's decision last Tuesday to take its controversial residuals revamp off the table. That lack of progress, combined with WGA's Oct. 1 request for the strike authorization, resulted in growing fears that writers will stop work as early as Nov. 1, the day after its current contract expires.
Verrone said that the WGA will only strike if it has no alternatives. Writers do not want to strike, but they are resolute and prepared to take strong, united action to defend our interests,” he added. “What we must have is a contract that gives us the ability to keep up with the financial success of this ever-expanding global industry.
WGA East president Michael Winship said, This historic vote sends an unequivocal message to the AMPTP, loud and clear. We will not be taken advantage of and we will not be fooled.
The Guild's returning to the bargaining table Monday–6 days after the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers withdrew its controversial residuals revamp–at WGA West headquarters in Hollywood. The session will be only the 11th day of negotiations since the formal bargaining began in mid-July.