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Writers set to vote on contract

Email|Print| Text size + By Lynn Elber
Associated Press / February 11, 2008

LOS ANGELES - The Writers Guild of America moved swiftly yesterday toward a resolution of its three-month-old strike, with guild leaders deciding to recommend the contract to members and ask them to vote on a quick end to the walkout.

By calling for separate votes on ending the strike and accepting the contract, the union cleared the way for the entertainment industry to return to work almost immediately.

Membership meetings will be held tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles to allow writers to decide whether the strike should be brought to a speedy end, said Patric Verrone, president of the guild's West Coast branch.

"This the best deal this guild has bargained for in 30 years," Verrone said.

The tentative contract secures writers a share of the burgeoning digital-media market, he said, including compensation for Internet-delivered TV shows and movies.

The union's negotiating committee recommended Saturday that the contract be accepted, and the West guild's board of directors and the East Coast guild's council agreed. They called for a ratification vote, which will be conducted by mail over about two weeks.

Member approval of the contract and the strike's end appeared likely. At heavily attended membership meetings Saturday in New York and Los Angeles, there was resounding support for the proposed deal that could put TV and movie production back on track, salvage the rest of the TV season, and remove a boycott threat from this month's Oscars.

The guild's major bargaining concession to studios was agreeing to take unionization of animation and reality TV shows off the table, Verrone said. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, said it had no comment yesterday on the guild's actions.

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