Hollywood writers vote to lift 14-week strike

Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:29am EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Film and television writers voted decisively on Tuesday to lift their 100-day-old strike against major studios and return to work on Wednesday, formally ending the worst labor clash to hit Hollywood in 20 years.

The outcome, while not unexpected, was greeted with relief by an entertainment community shaken for months by rancor and uncertainty, especially in the television industry where thousands of production workers ended up furloughed because of the strike.

WGA members will vote later on a proposed three-year contract, which provides new payments to writers for work streamed on the Internet and doubles rates they earn for films and TV shows resold as Internet downloads. It also extends the union's contract to cover made-for-Web content.

The back-to-work order was approved by 92.5 percent of the Writers Guild of America members who cast ballots in Los Angeles and New York two days after union leaders voted to endorse their contract settlement with the studios.

Guild leaders immediately sent an e-mail letter to some 10,500 writers who walked off the job on November 5 instructing them to return to work on Wednesday.

"The strike is over," WGA West President Patric Verrone declared at a news conference at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, which served as one of the polling stations. "Our members have voted, and writers can go back to work."

A total of 3,775 WGA members took part in the vote, down from the record turnout of more than 5,500 who voted in October when writers authorized the union to call a strike.

Compensating writers for work in new media proved to be the main sticking point in the confrontation between WGA leaders and the eight major entertainment companies represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.   Continued...

<p>Greg Fields, a member of The Writers Guild of America, lets his 3-year-old son Caelan drops his vote in the ballot box at Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, California after voting in a special election February 12, 2008, with the expectation that a 14-week-old strike against major film and TV studios will be lifted. REUTERS/Rick Loomis/Pool</p>