The roughly 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America are scheduled to start voting Wednesday on whether to authorize a strike.
The vote will be taking place online until Monday. If members approve a strike, as they almost certainly will, and no pact with studios has been reached by May 1, the writers will stop writing and picketing will start on Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
When writers walked out a decade ago, the stoppage cost the economy of Los Angeles an estimated $2.5 billion. Production halted, income dried up for writers, set decorators, caterers, limo drivers and florists, and TV stations ran loads of reruns.
The Writers Guild walked out for 100 days in 2007-8 and 155 days in 1988. In both cases, the most in-demand writers eventually got tired of losing income and applied pressure to wrap it up.
There could be big consequences this time around. Most networks have been losing viewers as Netflix and Amazon have risen in popularity. A strike could speed that shift, according to the Times.
Longtime Hollywood power players — agents, studio executives, labor lawyers — put the chance of a strike at roughly 51 percent, according to the Times. But it changes by the day.
The demands from the writers boils down to raises and bigger payments from studios for the guild’s generous health plan, which the writers want shored up.
—City News Service
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