Striking writers reach tentative deal with studios

Sat Feb 9, 2008 4:15pm EST
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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.

Members were scheduled to meet in New York at 2 p.m. EST and in Los Angeles at 10 p.m. EST to discuss specific terms, the ratification process and an end to the work stoppage, the union added.

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 WGA memo said the tentative deal "creates formulas for revenue-based residuals in new media, provides access to deals and financial data to help us evaluate and enforce those formulas, and establishes the principle that, 'When they get paid, we get paid."'   Continued...

<p>Members of the Writers Guild of America carry signs on the picket line at NBC studios in Burbank, California February 8, 2008. The union representing Hollywood's striking writers said it reached a "tentative deal" with studios and will meet members later on Saturday to discuss ending a three-month walkout that has crippled television production and overshadowed the awards season. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>