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US producers body: Authorisation vote for writers’ strike “inevitable”; goal remains to reach agreement

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Source: Jeremy Kay / Screendaily

Writers Guild Of America

Hollywood’s producers representative in contract talks with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has said its goal remains to find an agreement even though a strike authorisation vote is “inevitable”.

Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which negotiates on behalf of Hollywood studios, streamers and networks, has been in contract renewal talks with the WGA, whose members have until today (April 17) to vote online on whether or not to authorise strike action.

Writers are expected to be vote overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action should the parties fail to reach an agreement.

AMPTP’s Monday statement said, “A strike authorization vote has always been part of the WGA’s plan, announced before the parties even exchanged proposals. It should not surprise anyone that ratification is inevitable. An agreement is only possible if the Guild is committed to turning its focus to serious bargaining by engaging in full discussions of the issues with the Companies and searching for reasonable compromises.”

The writers have called for greater compensation, particularly with regard to TV writers, and are demanding enhanced payments for residuals, which has become a bone of contention in the streaming age, and for writers in “mini rooms”.

The current contract expires on May 1 and the Guild could call a strike any time after that. Hollywood consensus is that industrial action is going to happen, but it is not clear if it will last as long as the previous 100-day writers’ strike from late 2007 to early 2008.

A striking would cause significant disruption, especially in the television sector, where writers rooms can operate daily in the lead-up and during production. In the film sector, studios, streamers and the independents have been stockpiling screenplays.

Hollywood sales agents heading into the Cannes market are continuing to package projects and the belief is a writers’ strike may not impact productions earmarked to star principal photography towards the end of this year and into 2024.

Independent producers may decide to work with non-guild members and set up more collaborations with European and non-US partners whose members may not be affiliated with the Hollywood guilds.

The actors and directors guilds will also be renegotiating their contracts that expire on June 30, if they choose to do so. Were their members to go on strike the impact would be far greater.

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