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Writers' Strike Nearing A Resolution

  Labor & Employment  -   POSTED: 2008/02/10 20:34

Hollywood writers were optimistic they could end a three-month strike that has crippled the entertainment industry after reviewing a proposed deal from studios that increases their payments for online use of TV shows and movies.

Leaders of the Writers Guild of America recommended the deal Saturday to thousands of members gathered on both coasts and warned that holding out for a better deal might be disastrous.

Union chief negotiator John Bowman told writers at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles that "if they push any further, everyone would fall off the cliff," said Mike Rowe, a writer for the animated show "Futurama."

The WGA board planned to meet Sunday and decide whether to authorize a membership vote to lift the strike, according to a person familiar with the plan who requested anonymity because of a media blackout.

If guild members approve, they could be back at work on Wednesday, although formal approval of a contract would have to await ratification by members, which could take two weeks.

Giving writers a 48-hour window to vote on lifting the strike order would help alleviate concerns that the agreement was being pushed too rapidly by the guild's board.

Still, writers seemed confident that the walkout, which cost the Los Angeles area economy alone an estimated $1 billion or more, was coming to a close.

"It's a historic moment for labor in this country," said Oscar-nominated WGA member Michael Moore, who attended the New York meeting.

Carmen Culver, a film and TV writer, lauded the guild "for hanging tough."

"It's a great day for the labor movement. We have suffered a lot of privation in order to achieve what we've achieved," Culver said.

The WGA's first strike in 20 years began Nov. 5 and involved 10,000 members. It idled thousands of other entertainment industry workers, from caterers to security staff, disrupted both TV and movie production and derailed the Golden Globes awards, which was reduced to a news conference because actors wouldn't cross picket lines.

The Grammy Awards, set for Sunday night, were not affected because they received a waiver allowing writers to work on them. But an end to the strike could permit resumption of work for the Feb. 24 Academy Awards show.

A tentative three-year agreement was hammered out in recent talks between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, with the actual contract language concluded by lawyers on Friday.

According to the guild's summary, the deal provides union jurisdiction over projects created for the Internet based on certain guidelines, sets compensation for streamed, ad-supported programs and increases residuals for downloaded movies and TV programs.


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