Leaders at the Writers Guild of America are moving a step closer toward a showdown with the major studios.
The East and West Coast boards of the WGA have, as expected, cleared the way for the union to hold a strike authorization vote, with both boards voting unanimously to have members vote on the matter.
If members approve the request, WGA leaders would have the authority to call a strike if they couldn't reach a deal on a new three-year film and TV contract.
The WGA announced Wednesday that voting will be conducted online and at special membership meetings in mid-April. During those meetings, the guild's elected leadership will lay out the full status of negotiations as well as its bargaining strategy as the union moves toward the contract deadline of May 1.
"Our goal remains to negotiate the best possible deal before that date," the WGA said in the statement.
On Friday, negotiations between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke down after two weeks of talks. The alliance represents the major studios, networks and independent producers.
The WGA is arguing that the economic position of writers in Hollywood has deteriorated in the last five years as entertainment companies have remained profitable.
"Even with their record profits there is, apparently, no money for writers," the guild said Wednesday. "That was unacceptable on Friday; it is unacceptable now."
The AMPTP contends that the writers broke off talks at an early stage in order to secure a strike vote. "We are ready to return to negotiations when they are," the alliance said in a statement.
The last major WGA strike was the 2007-08 walkout that lasted 100 days and paralyzed TV and film production throughout Hollywood.
9:30 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from the AMPTP.