Striking writers to debate labor deal on Saturday

Wed Feb 6, 2008 12:27am EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Writers Guild of America plans to brief its members this weekend on a deal taking shape to end their 3-month-old strike, using the meetings to gauge rank-and-file support for the labor plan, union leaders said on Tuesday.

If members react favorably to the proposed deal at meetings set for Saturday in New York and Los Angeles, WGA leaders could act to lift or suspend the strike while a formal ratification process gets under way, two sources told Reuters.

Those sources, who are familiar with the circumstances but are barred from speaking publicly about them under a media blackout for the talks, cautioned, however, that no formal deal with the studios was yet in place. They said negotiators were still working out fine points in the contract language.

Hard-liners among the guild's leadership are expected to recommend a cautious approach on what steps to take next.

"There's lots of members urging the strike lasts until the contract is signed and ratified by the guild," one source said.

The latest communique from the presidents of WGA East and West Coast branches signaled that momentum toward reaching a settlement of the worst Hollywood labor clash in 20 years was progressing.

"We are continuing to negotiate the terms of a tentative agreement with the (studios)," said Michael Winship of the WGA East and Patric Verrone of the WGA West in an online message announcing the membership meeting schedules.

"We anticipate that we will be able to present the terms of that agreement to you in the next few days," they wrote, adding that the union leaders were seeking a "full discussion" with the rank-and-file on terms of the proposed deal.   Continued...

<p>Picketers from the Writers Guild Of America demonstrate in front of the studio where "The Daily Show" is filmed in New York, January 7, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>