The Writers Guild of America’s writers’ strike, which crippled the entertainment industry for more than three months, could finally be nearing an end. Union leaders finalized agreements with major studios over the weekend, and the union’s rank and file are scheduled to vote tomorrow, Feb. 12, on whether to end the walk-out immediately or to continue it until the formal ratifcation process takes place later this month. According to published reports, the membership is expected to accept the deal, which could put writers back to work this week.
“I am are pleased to inform you that … the WGA Negotiating Committee unanimously and unconditionally recommended the terms of the proposed 2008 MBA to the WGAW Board and WGAE Council,” WGA West President Patric M. Verrone told members over the weekend. Both guilds’ executive committees unanimously approved the deal on Feb. 10. In Tuesday’s vote, a “yes” will end the strike immediately; a “no” vote will continue the strike during the ratification process. The ratification vote will take place by mail ballot and at a special membership meeting, according to Verrone.
The strike by the writers’ union, which represents film, television and radio writers working in the U.S., has toiled since November 5, 2007, leaving many television fans devoid of fresh fare and leaving industry writers everywhere hurting for their hard-earned paychecks. Sources estimate that between 10,500 and 12,000 writers have joined the strike.
The so-called show runners – the writer/producers who actually run production of a show – were scheduled to go back to work today to prepare for the expected thumbs-up vote to end the strike, according to the Washington Post. Other writers will be able to go back to work as early as Wednesday, Verrone reported. “This is the best deal this guild has bargained in 30 years,” he told the Post, though he also acknowledged that “it is not all we hoped for and it is not all we deserved.”
Guild negotiators went in with three goals, Verrone explained to the Post: “First, jurisdiction of new media. We achieved that goal. Second, a provision that writers will be paid residuals for programming streamed on the Internet in the third year of the three-year deal.” The third goal, which was not achieved, he said, was to represent writers of reality and animation programming, who are currently not covered by the WGA.