Writers Guild leaders urge end to Hollywood strike
By Steve Gorman and Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Union leaders for striking Hollywood writers said they have reached a tentative contract deal with studios and urged members on Saturday to support it, calling for an end to a three-month walkout that has crippled TV production and overshadowed Oscar season.
The breakthrough was announced via e-mail to the 10,500 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) who launched the union's first strike in almost 20 years on November 5 in a dispute centering on compensation for work distributed over the Internet.
"While this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success," WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship said in the memo.
The union held closed-door meetings in New York and Los Angeles on Saturday to review terms of the deal with rank-and-file members and to gauge their response.
If reaction from union members is positive, the governing boards of the WGA's East and West Coast branches are expected to move quickly to formally endorse the pact and order striking writers back to work while the deal is submitted to them for ratification, a process that normally takes about 10 days.
In that case, board action to lift the strike would probably come on Sunday, and writers could be back on the job as early as Monday.
"We believe that continuing the strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike," the union leaders wrote.
The mood of WGA members emerging from a three-hour meeting in New York was upbeat. Continued...